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Solving Problems Building Community: An Agencies Efforts

The Community Oriented Policing unit is a specialized group of officers. The mission of this unit is using community oriented policing methods to solve law enforcement problems within Fairfield County . However, the C.O.P. unit is far more than an extension of Law Enforcement.

The Fairfield County Sheriff's Office has worked very hard for the past six years to establish a pro-active approach to Community problems by forming a Community Orienting Police Unit ( C.O.P. ). The C.O.P. unit at the Sheriff's Office is responsible for many activities and assisting with investigations within the Communities of Fairfield County. At the current time the unit only consist of, three officers. Cpl. Rudy Crumpton, Cpl. Melissa Cooper, and Cpl. Jimmy McDonald make up the faces of the C.O.P. unit. Cpl. Sherry Alexander, who is the Animal Control/Litter Officer, also lends a helping hand to the unit. These officers are Face to Face contacts for the citizens of the county, who have concerns or want to report Criminal activity in their area. Each officer is assigned to one section of the county. Each month these officers hold a Crime Watch/ Neighborhood Watch meeting in these areas of the county. They do various presentations such as “Gang Activity,” “Drug Awareness,” “Criminal Activity” and many other topics.

The community members expressed a concern regarding the juvenile problems in the county and asked them to come up with a way to build a better relationship with the children of Fairfield County . In July 2006, the C.O.P. unit did just that. The unit organized and promoted a week long day camp for twenty five children, age eight to twelve.

The Camp was free of charge and all lunches, snacks and drinks were donated by the local businesses. During this camp the C.O.P. officers had many events and games available for the children to participate in.They played games such as football, soccer, dodge-ball, basketball and water balloon fights. Each day there was a planned guest speaker. The Narcotics supervisor did a presentation on the effects of drugs to the human body, Substance Abuse came in and did an activity with the children regarding addiction to tobacco, the Humane Society did a picture presentation about cruelty to animals, the Sheriff's Office investigation unit did a fingerprint session teaching the children how to lift prints off of a surface and the Special Response Team (SRT) supervisor spoke to the children about the importance of the SRT team to the community. The children were also allowed to take a shot at the Obstacle Course designed for the SRT Team to train on. The children did a great job. They had many challenging obstacles to overcome and they all made it through with no injuries. This was the best activity according to them. They all had so much fun. At the end of the week the children invited their parents to an awards ceremony where each child received a Certificate of Completion and special awards were handed out to children who really stood out in the group. The Sheriff's Office Senior Staff members also attended along with Sheriff Herman W. Young who spoke to the group to wrap up the week long event. The unit is already planning for the 2007 2 nd Annual Sheriff's Office Day Camp.

The C.O.P. unit is also very involved in the Counties Schools doing things such as talking to different classes or one on one Mentoring for the students. The community crime watch groups also participate in various school functions. There are several members that attend the Primary School and offer mentoring as well. The crime watch group that meets at the Nazarene church near the Sheriff's Office has offered many suggestions for helping out the children and the elderly in the county. Currently the group checks on and assist many of the elderly citizens by shopping or cleaning for them. This goes along with the Home Alone program that the C.O.P. officers have.

The Community Oriented Policing unit is also very involved in gathering information and intelligence on various “Gangs” that have entered the area over the past few years. These officers are very concerned and are continuing to further their knowledge and education on gang awareness to better serve the citizens. Currently the C.O.P. officers along with other various county organizations are working to put together a Collaborative program that will deter juveniles from joining a gang and assist gang members that want to get out. The program is in the developmental stage now and should be up and running by 2008. Along with the community members, the C.O.P. unit is working with “Keep Fairfield Beautiful,” to READ, RECORD AND REMOVE gang graffiti around the County. The C.O.P. officers have just started a program that allows first time graffiti offenders to paint over their work as a form of community service. These officers are also involved in and work closely with the Narcotics Investigators doing things such as surveillance, traffic stops and undercover operations. Many times the C.O.P. officers are asked to participate in a Search Warrant along with the Narcotics team.

Along with the many interesting activities and programs the C.O.P. officers are involved in, they are very concerned and care very much for the elderly citizens of the county. The C.O.P. officers make every effort to check on and help out any elderly person that may need assistance. These citizens are very important to Sheriff Herman Young and they rank high on the priority for the officers of the C.O.P. unit.

These citizens may require things such as just needing some company, needing some things fixed around the house or maybe need someone to cover the windows in preparation for winter. This past holiday season Cpl. Melissa Cooper and Cpl. Rudy Crumpton visited each and every Home Alone elderly citizen and handed out a small gift to each of them from the Sheriff's office. The Chief Deputy's assistant Keryn Isenhoward paid for and packaged the gifts. The elderly citizens in Fairfield County are very important and make up the heritage in our county and the C.O.P. officers are more than happy to help out.

There are many ways in which the Community Oriented Policing Unit has helped out the community. The C.O.P. unit owes many of their efforts to the continued support of our Crime Watch groups and the help of the other Sheriff's Office staff members. Many times we have needed things in order for our efforts to be successful and Sheriff Herman W. Young has made it possible for us. The Patrol deputies have also been a great deal of help to us. Without the collaborative efforts of the Community and the Sheriff's Office family, the C.O.P. unit would struggle. A special thank you goes out to the many Patrol Officers who helped out on their much needed days off, with the Day Camp. Also thank you to Cpl. Sherry Alexander who extended her hand and heart and continues to do so to help out the C.O.P. unit. Last but not least, thank you to the office secretaries who help out even when they are pushing towards their own deadlines.

In conclusion, the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office has taken great pride and interest in the citizens of our communities. The Community Oriented Policing unit is constantly looking for new and improved ways to strengthen and inform our community members. If this program can help save one child or adult, then we know we have made a difference and that is the ultimate goal. Sheriff Herman Young along with the Community Oriented Policing Unit in Fairfield County has earned and deserves recognition for their outstanding efforts to protect and serve the citizens in Fairfield County.