York City Police Dept.'s newest community-policing tool is like a Segway, sort of
by LIZ EVANS SCOLFORO
At 6-feet-5, with size 15 feet, York City Police Officer Mike Davis wasn't exactly comfortable riding a Segway.
But as one of the city's designated downtown officers -- who don't use patrol cruisers -- a Segway would be useful in a number of ways, he said, including being able to make traffic stops, chasing down fleeing suspects and simply having a ready-made conversation starter with passers-by.
In fact, the department already has three that have become an integral part of the downtown officers' patrol work, according to Officer Blake McBride. He's been riding them since 2005.
"They absolutely make a difference," he said.
PeoplesBank donated the police department's first two Segways in 2007, then a third in 2008, according to Nathan Eifert, the York County-based bank's vice president and director of marketing.
Fourth in fleet: So when York City Police approached bank officials about possibly donating a fourth Segway-type vehicle -- this one a new, beefed-up model -- PeoplesBank didn't hesitate, Eifert said.
"We love to be able to help as much as we can," he said, adding the city's "hometown heroes" deserve the best equipment to do the job.
Outside City Hall on Thursday, bank officials presented the keys for the new T3 Patroller by T3 Motion to York City Police Chief Wes Kahley, who called PeoplesBank officials "great partners" with the city.
York Mayor Kim Bracey praised the new vehicle as being "the newest tool" in community policing. And Davis said it's perfect for larger officers, like him.
"I'm looking forward to making my first traffic stop with it," he said.
It's chunky: No one would describe the T3 as streamlined.
It's much bigger than a Segway, doesn't require the rider to maintain balance, boasts a much larger foot platform and has all kinds of bells and whistles. They include an integrated high-definition video camera system, a GPS locator, flashing lights and a siren.
It can go about 15 mph, a bit faster than the Segways' 12.5 mph. Eifert said it cost about $11,000.
Davis took the T3 for a spin at Thursday's presentation, deftly maneuvering at impressive speed around reporters, city officials and representatives of PeoplesBank.
"He's like a ballerina," city police Capt. Ron Camacho quipped.
"This will give us the ability to cover a lot more ground," Davis said.
Crowd control: Standing on the T3's 9-inch-high platform makes Davis "Shaq-sized," he said, and give him an elevated view of what's going on around him.
"It's good for crowd control," Davis said, including parades and other city events that draw large numbers of people. "You can identify problems in a crowd."
Davis has been a downtown officer for about a year now, and says he enjoys community policing.
"I like to solve problems," he said.
A good step in community policing
You won't come away with a police badge. And, no, you won't be able to make arrests or stop those nasty drivers who cut you off on city streets, around Grant or Blackburn circles, or on Route 128.
But the Citizens Police Academy being launched by the Gloucester Police Department under new chief Leonard Campanello and Lt. John McCarthy is indeed a worthy project that has been presented in other communities and should accomplish several goals for Gloucester residents and the department alike.
The primary one, of course, is to simply give residents the chance to get a first-hand look at what police work and the city's Police Department are all about. The six-week academy, which begins Feb. 27 and carries into early April, will feature classes and workshops on domestic violence, drug issues, motor vehicle law, patrol procedures, firearms awereness — and then a K-9 unit demonstration, a cruiser ride-along and a tour of Middleton jail.
But, more subtly, the academy should also raise participants' awareness of the need for community policing, and how civilians can better work with the department in neighborhoods across the city to bolster Gloucester's public vigilance and safety.
Applications for the academy are available at the police station, at local businesses, and will also be available online beginning Friday on the department's web page at www.gloucester-ma.gov.
Let's hope this excellent community outreach project draws the level of interest, participation and support it deserves.
Vineland police extend outreach to local schools
by Deborah M. Marko
VINELAND — Over sandwiches and chocolate milk, diners in the Petway Elementary School cafeteria got to know each other a little better Thursday afternoon.
One day, fifth-rader Javon Daves said he'd like to be a police officer.
His lunch companion, Officer Joe Pagano, already is one.
The Vineland Police Department is expanding its community policing into the public elementary schools to connect with the city's youngest residents.
Officers, including Chief Tim Codispoti, were warmly welcomed by fourth- and fifth-graders who slid over at their lunch tables to make room for the visitors.
The Lunch with a Cop program debuted this month in all six elementary schools and will serve as a home base for the officers to get to know the surrounding community.
Officers visit the schools for two 20-minute lunch periods once a week, sometimes on their own lunch hours, Pagano said.
They'll become familiar faces to the children, Codispoti said, adding the officers will attend evening activities at the school as well to get to know parents.
“It's something so simple but it has a huge impact,” the chief said.
Eventually, officers will go door-to-door introducing themselves to the neighborhood residents.
Then when someone has a non-emergency concern, they'll have an officer they can turn to for help.
“You've met him, you know his name,” Codispoti said.
The police department has a dedicated community policing unit, but the chief, said the goal is to expand community policing into a department-wide philosophy.
Principal Jennifer Frederico endorsed the community outreach program noting the students are taught about “community helpers.”
“They are good role models,” she said.
Andreas Panagiotopoulos, 10, sat next to Codispoti, and noted the top cop's uniform was little different than the officers on his favorite TV police show “Hawaii 5-0.”
“They don't have uniforms,” Andreas said.
The lunch chat covered a wide range of topics including favorite colors and future aspirations. When he was a youngster, Codispoti told the students he dreamed of becoming a pilot.
Codispoti encouraged fourth-grader Nina Bombeke who said she will be an artist.
Nina, shaking off shyness, told the chief, “I like to draw animals.”
One of his first jobs was stocking shelves in a pet store, Codispoti told the youngsters. While working night shifts, he said he would let the big dogs out so they could play with each other.
The students liked that and shared stories with the chief about their own pets.
Across the cafeteria, Javon told Pagano when he plays cops and robbers with his younger brother, he's always the cop.
One day, Javon said, he would like to be a police officer after he's fixed jets for the U.S. Air Force and served as U.S. president.
The possibilities are endless and Pagano encouraged the fifth-grader to study hard in school, especially math, science and reading, to have the skills he'll need to go far.
Then the small talk ended with a big compliment.
“I really appreciate everything you do,” Javon told Pagano, who was a little taken back by the youngster's spontaneous praise. He reached out offering his new buddy a handshake.
Friendships formed, and the students encouraged the officers to come back again.