VENTURA : Community-Oriented Policing Planned

Ventura police officers will work more closely with other city employees and residents to solve problems as part of a new community-oriented policing program the Police Department plans to implement in a few months.

The program, scheduled to begin in January, is not expected to cost any money or require more officers, Police Chief Richard Thomas said in a presentation to the Ventura City Council on Monday.

Instead, it calls for increased cooperation among police officers, other city employees and residents. Officers will notify code enforcement or building and safety officials about violations they see on their beats. An officer who notices a rash of burglaries in a particular neighborhood, for example, may contact residents and encourage them to form a Neighborhood Watch program.

"We intend to develop a partnership with the community," Thomas said. "This will employ long-term solutions versus short-term fixes."

Thomas called community-oriented policing a "philosophical change" in law enforcement. Patrol officers will do more follow-up work and more investigations, he said. They will be assigned to specific areas of the city for long periods of time so that they can become better acquainted with the community, Thomas said.

"The average neighborhood will have their own cop or set of cops on a consistent basis," Thomas said. As a result, business owners and residents will be able to work more closely with police to solve problems they notice in their neighborhood, he said.

Thomas said the Ventura Police Department is joining other law enforcement agencies across the nation in shifting to community-oriented policing.

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