Policing in your community

Phillip Harnden photo
Glenrock Police Chief Tim Hurd becomes surrounded by Grant Elementary School students during a surprise visit Jan. 26.

By Ethan Brogan ethan@glenrockind.com

Anton Good was running late for school. He sprinted out of his house and made his way down the street to his bus stop.
When he got there, he noticed none of his friends were around.
So, he began walking to school.
“People started asking me to get in there car so I started saying ‘no,’” Good said.
Good kept saying “no” to the people trying to get him into their car. After a few moments, the police arrived and picked Good up.
Several weeks earlier, the Glenrock police department came to Grant Elementary School  where they told Good about their program for the year: Stranger Danger.
He listened to the police about saying no and to keep moving, he didn’t get into that women’s car because of Glenrock Police Department Chief Tim Hurd.
Good remembers all programs Hurd talked to kids at his school about.
“Not bullying, don’t get in people’s cars,” Good said. “It was pretty cool.”
Because of these talks, he knew what to do when the woman asked him to get in her car.
The GPD has shifted its approach to one that focused on community policing when Hurd began his time as chief.
Hurd first practiced community policing in 1996 when Rick Roth, the sheriff of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, told him about the importance of connecting with the people you serve.
“He gave me the opportunity to do something for the community and get involved with the community and be more than just law enforcement,” Hurd said, remarking he encouraged him to have positive community interaction whenever he could.
When Hurd was offered the chief position in a depressed area outside of Dothen, Alabama, where he implemented community-based policing on a large scale.
“I saw kids that didn’t have anything, that didn’t have the luxuries a lot of kids have,” Hurd said. “I thought to myself ‘if you made a difference and you reached out to these kids, color doesn’t matter (and) race doesn’t matter, are they going to respond to it?’”
Four years after being chief, part one crimes, rape, robbery, simple assault etc., in Dothen dropped by 80 percent. Hurd implemented a Christmas gift giving program, similar to Glenrock, and the community response was huge.
After changing Dothen’s policing style, Hurd threw his hat in the ring to be the chief for Glenrock.
“He was clearly the right choice because of his experience, how he composed himself,” Mayor Doug Frank said. “His commitment to community policing was really the direction I believed, firmly, that we needed to go . . . I saw in him, that sort of ability to connect with people warmly and the enjoyment of being in the community.”
Hurd wanted to bring those same changes in Dothen to Glenrock and, through the help of his department, he is constantly finding new ways to be present in the community’s mind with a positive message.
“I’ve believed in people all my life and just finally found a way to do God’s will and do God’s work,” Hurd said. “I think that we are suppose to do what we can to help each other and if you implement that in law enforcement. . . people get a better understanding of what you have to do.”
Officers entering the department are told exactly how this law enforcement agency functions and the importance of the work they do.
“You have to be a part of the community, you have to break down the separation of ‘us and them’ mentality. We are all here, we are  all members of the community,” Sgt. Colter Felton said, remarking how he can easily connect with the community by tossing around a ball or shooting a basket. In his free time, Felton coaches youth football, soccer and baseball. “One of the best decisions I have made is keeping a football and basketball in my car,”
“I think everyone in this department supports this community,” Officer Warren Steele said. “It is important for the kids to see an officer in uniform and know we are here to help.”
Steele also coaches several youth sports teams and is heavily involved in his church.
“I think it is beneficial to the officers and the community,” Officer Laura Knollman said.
Even though Officer Dan Cade is still new to the department, the idea of being a constant role model to the public is something he values. Cade hasn’t previously worked at a law enforcement agency that practice community policing to this extent.
“The leadership is better, everything is better,” Cade said, remarking it is important for people in the community to “reach out if they feel like they have no one to go to.”
When GPD officers enter the schools, they are met with kids waving and saying hello, and some students approaching the officers for hugs or a high-five.
“That’s what’s so cool about it,” Officer Billy Frieda said. “It gets us out in the public more often on a positive note.”
Because of these regular visits to the schools, students and police relationships are being cemented early.
“All the community policing he has done is a positive way to show we are the good guys and we are here to help, ”Officer Jason Hoppa said, remarking the anti-bullying campaign Hurd began this last year has been impactful to students in the Glenrock School District. “It’s a great way to be a positive role model to the kids at that age.”
“The community policing and the emphasis that he (Hurd) has placed on getting officers into the school district to positively build relationships with kids has been instrumental with our relationship with the school district and law enforcement,” GSD Superintendent Coley Shadrick said.
Frank also recognizes the value of community policing within Glenrock’s schools.
“If you just consider what a huge part of our population that is. . . to set those relationships with our children from an early age would reap benefits to them and the community in the future,” Frank said.
Hurd hasn’t limited just his officers to be vigilant with community policing.
“For me it’s really cool,” Animal Control Officer Stuart McCrary said. “Within a week, you run into them (the kids) and they are waving at you.”
For events such as the Safe Kids Day last summer, all members of the GPD got to spend time with local kids on an individual level.
Dispatchers Jaelyn Walters, Frankie Bower, Karie Moalton, Dusty Stoddard and Larissa Lehman set up the fair and handed out prizes after kids played the games set up.
The common bond of being out with the people you serve is paramount to accomplishing community policing, Hurd said.
Hurd views the aspect of taking responsibility as one of the most vital roles of community policing.
“It gives the public the opportunity see that their police department is human that we make mistakes,” Hurd said. “ Don’t judge us or pre-judge us because of what has occurred around the nation.”
Hurd’s policing style is working too.
Glenrock has seen a 75 percent decrease in juvenile crimes since he became chief.
This style of policing is resonating with people in Glenrock. Just ask Anton Good, one of his aspirations is to be a police officer when he grows up.
“I’d be a police officer because I could make the world a better place,” Good said. “I can help a lot of people out and do good things with my life.”


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