The West Plains Police Department has announced two new approaches to community engagement: a youth Explorer Program, and a new patrol plan.
Police Chief Stephen Monticelli says officers are eager to bring the Explorer Program to the agency to continue efforts to partner with the youth of the community.
The program is still in its infancy, but the goal is to establish the guidelines and application process during the 2020-2021 school year, and hold an Explorer Academy for those selected in spring 2021, said Monticelli.
“As police chief of the West Plains Police Department, I am pleased to invite those interested in the Explorer Program to participate in this exciting program that is being formed with a select group of young adults who share an interest in law enforcement careers,” Monticelli said.
“Participants will have the opportunity to pursue their interest in law enforcement by working closely with my officers," he continued. "In addition, participants will have the opportunities for service, social and other activities.”
Chief Monticelli has named Officer Amanda Ohlau as the coordinator of the new program. Ohlau herself served as a Police Explorer at the Kirkwood Police Department for five years prior to becoming a member of the West Plains Police Department in 2019.
Watch the West Plains Police Department’s Facebook page for updates on the status of the program.
NEW PATROL SECTORS
Monticelli also announced that, as a result of collaboration with community members on the Geographic Policing Committee, new patrol sectors have been drawn up and will go into effect when the department begins using its new records management software later this year.
"The department’s current response plan divided the city into two areas that are just too large for officers utilizing geographic policing in the community," Monticelli explained. The new plan has divided the city into four sectors with similar demographics within those areas.
Missouri State University-West Plains is placed in a single sector with the downtown area and the Ozarks Medical Center campus falls into its own sector.
The next phase of planning will involve identifying supervisors, police officers and detectives to be assigned to each of the new sectors, said Monticelli. Once this is done, the department will implement the geographic policing model.
"The officers will really start getting to know the businesses and residents within their sectors," Monticelli added. "This will help them better understand the quality of life issues in order to better serve the community within each sector."
The police department will also be creating an email address for each sector so citizens will be able to send an email explaining any problems or concerns they are experiencing and have an officer attempt to resolve their concerns.
"When the police department’s new web page is up and going, we will have a map that allows citizens to determine which sector they reside or have their business in, and the email addresses associated with their sector," the chief explained. He added the new emails will not serve as a replacement for 911 calls or calls for service that come directly to the police department. "The members of the police department are excited about the new sectors and the ability to work closer with our community."
The department wants to thank, in particular, the geographic committee members for their hard work and discussions on how the city sectors need to be designed, said Monticelli, noting that officers are hopeful he committee can once again start meeting when the pandemic is concluded.