The Bowling Green Police Division recently hosted their first Citizen Outreach Program (COP) on October 28th and November 4th, 2021, to give community members a direct experience of what they do for the city. “The Citizen Outreach Program was developed as an effort to engage community members on a more personal level, create an opportunity for dialogue and build trust. It is part of a larger effort that began with the July 2020 racial equity resolution passed by City Council. This program, coupled with the Police Liaison to Communities of Color and engagement with citizen groups, is designed to build positive relationships and transparency,” said Chief Hetrick.
The program was organized by Lieutenant Ryan Tackett and Sgt. Doug Hartman, Sgt. Gordon Finger, Sgt. Jeff Lowery, Sgt. Scott Frank, Officer Noel Crawford, Officer Brian Crites, Officer Kris Garman, Officer Matt Robinson, Officer Caleb Kusmierek, and Officer Vinny Snyder.
In this two-part series, citizens were able to see and experience how Officers are trained to observe, orient, decide, and react in highly stressful situations.
Topic areas of the program included:
- Patrol Operations (Public Safety, Traffic Enforcement, Criminal Enforcement)
- BGPD Tour
- Crisis Negotiations and Special Response Teams
- K9 Unit and Demonstration
- Traffic Stops
- De-escalation Techniques & Use of Force
- Firearm Safety and Use at BGPD Firing Range
- Defensive Tactics
“I feel the Citizen Outreach Program is an amazing way for law enforcement to foster community trust. The program allowed citizens an opportunity to learn about their local law enforcement agency’s culture, core values, and the overall operations of their department. [It] provided citizens with a first-hand look at what officers may encounter on a day to day basis, as well as a better understanding of the job of being a police officer. My favorite part of the COP program was being put through a series of high stress scenarios where you were given very little information blindly and told to handle the scenario to the best of your ability. The officers did a phenomenal job and I really appreciated how they talked individually to each citizen afterwards about what they could have done differently as well as praising them for what they did well. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting the opportunity to not only properly handle a firearm, but getting to shoot one as well. I really feel this program is an effective way to enhance the relationship between the public and our law enforcement,” said Paula Hoiles, program participant.
City Councilman Greg Robinette shared, “I thoroughly enjoyed the BGPD's Citizen Outreach Program. I was joined by 15 other BG residents in meeting many officers, learning about police operations, and the training requirements and duties of a police officer. All of the officers involved in the program did a great job explaining police procedures, describing what their jobs entail, and answering the many questions from the group. It was time well spent.”
At the completion of the program, participants were offered the opportunity to participate in a ride-along to experience what a real shift is like. Chief Hetrick shared that this program will be repeated twice a year. Those who are interested in learning more or joining a wait list for the next available program should visit the City’s website at www.bgohio.org/634/Citizen-Outreach-Program-COP. Questions should be referred to Lieutenant Ryan Tackett at email@example.com.
“This program is an important step in our effort to help our citizens better understand the experiences of our Officers as they work to police for our community. Transparent policies and procedures are vital to building trust and establishing positive relationships with all of our residents. I’m grateful to those residents who participated in the program and for the effort of our hardworking Police Division for developing the program. We understand the process will be ongoing, but we’re committed to it, and I look forward to these continued and meaningful conversations,” Mayor Aspacher stated.