Daily police foot patrols will return to village
Police Chief Thomas Tighe said he is bringing the practice of foot patrols back to the downtown area to improve community relations through direct contact.
Officers working the first and second shifts, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., will perform an hour of foot patrol to their daily schedule. "They will go into the various businesses on Narragansett Avenue and East Ferry and introduce themselves to the personnel in the different establishments," Tighe said.
"This isn't just for the shop owners. Whenever officers are seen on the street, people should feel free to talk to them and ask any questions they may have," Tighe said.
The idea is for the officers to get to know the shopkeepers and business owners, and for residents to have an opportunity to interact with the officers and get accustomed to the security of their presence in the village. "It's much more personable than just seeing a patrol car occasionally drive by," he added.
Tighe said that additional officers will also be added to the downtown area on Sunday nights when concerts take place at East Ferry. They will enforce parking regulations and help control the flow of pedestrian traffic to assure the safety of concertgoers as they walk to and from Veteran's Memorial Square.
Vicki de Angeli, president of the Jamestown Chamber of Commerce ,said that she thought the foot patrols were a fabulous idea. "We're a small town, and when the police are familiar faces and get to know everyone, that's part of the charm of who we are," de Angeli said. "I can't think of a down side. A police presence is always comfortin."
Paula LaBarre, manager of Grapes and Gourmet at East Ferry, said, "It's a great idea. It makes for better communication. When the police interact with people, they are involved with the community. It gives everyone an opportunity to know who they are and brings us together as a town."
Police officer Tiffany Kopacz said that she thinks it is a good idea. "Meeting people while we're on patrol gives us an opportunity to talk to them in a positive light. If people only meet us in an official capacity, they aren't always left with a good impression of who we are and what we represent."
When the police visit a business, they have an opportunity to see the interior of the premises and get familiar with the layout, Kopacz said. This is advantageous if something does happen and a situation develops. Then the police will have a better idea of how to respond because they are familiar with the surroundings.
"Introducing ourselves to people in the community makes us approachable. It lets people know we are receptive and want to hear what they have to say. When we need their help, the interaction results in cooperation and trust," Kopacz said.
Steve Sherman of Jamestown Hardware on Narragansett Avenue said, "We have very few problems, if any, that would involve the police. But, getting to know the police and making people familiar with who they are is always a good thing." Their presence on the avenue will probably help to keep kids from flying down the sidewalk on their skateboards, he added. "I don't think the kids always realize that we have a lot of old people walking around. The kids might not see them when they walk out of a store."