DAPP Starts Community Policing
Raleigh - Working in a high-risk area of Raleigh, six probation
and parole officers donned bullet-proof vests one hot Friday night in August
and worked at the elbows of Raleigh city police.
|There was tension in the atmosphere as police officers set up a roadblock and stopped drivers to check licenses. The area was a known hang-out for drug users. Cars backed up as much as a quarter mile. Police officers passed drivers licenses to the PPOs who in turn radioed the names back to the office where four other PPOs checked for outstanding warrants, breaks in curfew or other violations.||
The scene is becoming more common as the Division of Adult Probation and Parole joins forces with local law enforcement in tracking down law breakers. Mecklenburg and Cumberland county PPOs also participate in community policing activities.
The Raleigh Community Policing Program started after U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno suggested that police chiefs adopt Boston's idea of probation and parole officers sharing the same beat with police officers. Raleigh Police Chief Mitchell Brown asked Major Leonard Baker to work with the Division of Adult Probation and Parole.
The major and Judicial District Manager Nate Gay began putting committees together in August 1996 and came up several ideas for the Raleigh Community Policing Program. In January, the two agencies began working together in special sting operations.
Gay said, "The beauty of this system is that our officers can identify an absconder or any other offender violating the conditions of his probation or parole and send them straight to jail while Raleigh Police officers don't always have immediate access to that kind of information."
This night only 17 of the 197 cars that were stopped were probationers. One was arrested for driving while intoxicated, another was an absconder from Alamance County. An intensive probation violator arrested by the PPOs was found to be a deadbeat dad. If the PPOs had not been present, this offender would have passed through he roadblock unabated. Raleigh Police made other arrests, from prostitution to drug charges.
During an earlier roadblock, PPOs caught six probationers violating the conditions of probation. Three offenders on intensive supervision were out past curfew, one probationer was an absconder, another was carrying a semi-automatic pistol and two were driving while intoxicated. In an unusual twist of events, that night probation and parole officers arrested more people than police officers did.
"People who live in these drug-infested communities appreciate the Raleigh police setting up the roadblocks in their areas, even if it may be of some inconvenience," Gay said. "The added help of our officers helps keep the streets a little safer."
Gay said he never has any problem getting volunteers to work in these sting operations. DAPP officers Bradley Richards, Sterling Smith, Tony Taylor, Susan Vanore, Mike Enloe and Art Stahmer were the officers who volunteered to work the Aug. 15th operation. Chief Probation and Parole Officer James Chesnutt manned the computers back at the office along with Mary Anne Stapleford, Rene Centeno and Mike Honeycutt. When they find an offender who has a warrant, these officers notify the probation and parole officers working the special operation and the offender is taken into custody.
Not only are DAPP officers involved in special operations like the August roadblock, but they are also a part of the four Raleigh COMPASS (Community Policing Assistance Substation) offices where officers work in a high-crime neighborhood.
"The potential of our probation and parole officers helping to cut crime in poor neighborhoods is tremendous," Gay said. "We hope this combination of efforts will continue to grow and strengthen both our operations."
The 10th Judicial District and the Raleigh Police Department plan to initiate Phase III of their Community Policing effort by establishing a ride-along program in the near future.
"Participation in the Community Policing cooperative has boosted morale and greatly enhanced our relationship with the Raleigh Police Department," Gay said. "We stand ready to assist other interested DAPP locations in starting a similar initiative."
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