S.C.'s lawn mower man: A cut above the bickering
Chris Cox has taken cleanup around Washington's memorials into his own hands.
Most everybody complains about the government shutdown, but Chris Cox is actually doing something about it.
With many government operations shuttered by the political standoff in Washington, Cox took a lawn mower to the National Mall this week and began cutting grass areas between the Lincoln and World War II memorials.
"These are our memorials. Do they think that we're just going to let them go to hell?'' Cox told Washington radio station 99.1 in a story recounted by Columbia, S.C., TV station WIS.
Cox carried a blue South Carolina state flag as he pushed a standard gasoline-powered mower. He is a native of Mount Pleasant, S.C., living just outside Washington in Alexandria, Va.
He calls his one-citizen effort the Memorial Militia, aiming to keep things tidy and trim the grass that failed to halt its growth when the U.S. government issued furloughs and suspended many official functions last week.
"If they shut down our memorials, we're still going to take the trash out, we're going to clean the windows, we're going to cut the grass, we're going to pull the weeds, we're going to do the tree work,'' he said.
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said Cox visited him at his congressional office last week to voice displeasure with the shutdown. Sanford said he had never before met Cox, whose hometown is in Sanford's district, and assumed that visit was the end of it – until the congressman spotted Cox and his flag at work Wednesday.
"It turns out he had taken it upon himself since our visit last week to keep up the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and World War II memorials and surrounding grounds,'' Sanford said.
"He bought a lawn mower, a blower and told me he had spent the days and evenings since our visit picking up trash, cutting grass and blowing leaves to keep walkways clean,'' said Sanford, a former governor of the state.
There's no official sanction for his work, Sanford noted. He said Cox told him a U.S. Park Service officer had approached him an hour earlier and "told him he was no longer allowed to do so ... though the park service would not maintain these monuments now.''
Cox told the station that he's not motivated by politics but wants to keep the memorials looking tidy as veterans arrive for a planned Million Vet march on Washington.
Pictures of Cox at work popped up on social media websites, where he has received lots of support and praise – particularly from the Palmetto state.
"That's how we roll in S.C.!! Bless you sir!,'' Natasha Morgan Graham wrote on a Facebook page run by FoxCarolina.com, a TV station website.
"You go lawn mower man!!!, wrote Lisa Marie Stoehrer. "Lawn mower man is the epitome of what it means to be a proud American!! Mow on!!''
West Shore Regional Police to be latest department to embrace community policing style
by Jeremy Arias
Over the next few weeks, some residents in the west shore communities of Wormleysburg and Lemoyne may get the impression that local police are getting friendlier.
According to West Shore Regional Police Chief Michael Hope, this is not the case. In Hope's mind, his officers have always been friendly: They'll just be making more of an effort to interact with the public on a non-enforcement level thanks to a new community policing program announced by the department this week.
"It's a weekend detail that tries to get the officers out of their cars and into the community," Hope said of the effort Tuesday. "To get them to walk around for about 30 minutes in a park or at a football game. I want them to get out of their vehicles and talking to the community they serve."
While the concept of openly personable, talkative law enforcement officers may seem a novel idea to some, the community policing angle — which seeks to create greater trust and cooperation from the public by cultivating positive interactions with residents — is an idea that's gaining traction in recently in more than one midstate department.
Just last week, Harrisburg's interim police Chief Thomas Carter reiterated his support for a more citizen-friendly police force, an approach to law enforcement he feels was all too often disregarded and even discouraged in the past.
"I was criticized in the past for being too people-friendly … I was held back, I was laughed at," Carter said at a public safety hearing hosted by a mayoral candidate in the city last week. "… But the only way to have a strong police department is through the heart of the community and the citizenry of this city."
Hope seemed to agree with his fellow chief's sentiments, but with a much smaller department — West Shore police consists of a staff of 12, including administrative employees — the community policing effort will begin as a weekend-only initiative in short, 30-minute efforts so as not to risk hampering the department's enforcement duties.
"There's only a couple of police officers to cover some 6,000 or so residents, plus we have the people who come into the area to work or conduct business," Hope said. "But there's no reason we can't try to create more of a collaborative approach to police work here."
"There's no reason we can't try to create more of a collaborative approach to police work here," - Chief Michael Hope.
Combined with the foot patrols, which will be encouraged for officers on-duty during the morning and early afternoon shifts, Hope is also looking to beef up police presence around the Washington Heights Elementary School in Lemoyne.
"I want our officers to be able to meet the children so the children can feel a little bit more comfortable with police outside of an enforcement role," he said. "We have emotions, we have feelings, too. We're just regular people."
So far the program is slated to last through Halloween, at which point Hope plans to evaluate the department's effort and make a plan to move forward, he said.
" Residents should be able to say, 'Hey, I know who that is; that's officer Capers and there's Lt. Karnes,' Or, 'Hey, that's Chief Hope,'" he said.
Police to beef up in historic district areas
Grant will allow for 10 officers to patrol on foot and bicycles
by TAYLOR DUNGJEN
In the coming spring, five Toledo neighborhoods will get some face time with Toledo police officers.
A new community-policing effort, the Community Corridor Initiative, will distribute 10 officers to designated “historic neighborhood districts to address community and small business concerns,” said police Chief Derrick Diggs.
The chief said the officers will work in vehicles, on bicycles, and on foot.
The chosen corridors are “vital gateways to businesses and residential areas of Toledo and their success is critical to the overall well-being of the city,” Chief Diggs said.
Areas include neighborhoods around Lagrange, Cherry, Main, and Broadway streets as well as near West Sylvania Avenue.
“One of the things I always hear at all of the Block Watch meetings is that people want to see and hear and talk to police officers,” said Councilman Tom Waniewski.
Part of his district falls within a portion of the Sylvania Avenue corridor.
“The crime, fortunately, in my district isn't as severe as in other parts of town — we don't have the shootings and that's great — but one small crime ... that still has an impact on that resident,” Mr. Waniewski said.
Chief Diggs said each of the selected neighborhoods has “different concerns,” but there is time to “tailor this initiative” for each area.
The new patrols are expected to hit the streets in April after a class of 75 Toledo police recruits graduates from the department's academy.
Originally, the class was set to be 65 strong, but a $1.25 million federal grant from Community Oriented Policing Services allowed the department to add 10 more recruits to the class.
The grant covers 75 percent of the cost to employ the officers for three years.
After that, the funding will have to come from the department.
The new police class kicks off the academy Tuesday.
To accommodate the large class, the biggest in 30 years, Chief Diggs said additional space has been rented at the academy, which is hosted at Owens Community College.
“We know it's going to be a challenge, but we are up to it because we need these officers on the streets,” Chief Diggs said.
Once the 75 graduate, the department will have about 650 officers.
The hires will also allow for positions to be filled in the Investigative Services Bureau and Special Operations.
Mayor Mike Bell said the hires will come at a critical time just as the weather starts to warm and the city sees — as it does just about every year as summer approaches — an increase in crime.