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Local police rely on community to cover expansive area

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By Carol A. Clark

Citizens are playing a big role in community policing.

The Los Alamos Police Department patrols 110 square miles of county on a 24/7 basis with 20 uniformed officers on the best day. They count on residents to stay alert and help keep them informed because they can’t be everywhere all the time.

“It’s absolutely imperative that we partner with the community to cover that much area,” Police Chief Wayne Torpy said during an interview Monday. “The number of cases we solve from the assistance of the community is amazing. Not only the direct phone calls that lead to arrests but also the many citizens who pass along suspicions and concerns to us probably involves 50 percent of our cases. So community and business involvement is a big part of the puzzle, not only for a smaller agencies like ours but across the board in law enforcement.”

Sgt. Jeff Regenold conducts many of his patrols on a police regulation bicycle. “I think people view us as more approachable when we’re on bicycles and when they see us walking or in a store,” Regenold said after visiting with a family near the post office on Central Avenue Monday.   

 

In addition to the traditional relationship of police to the community, LAPD offers a number of ways for community members to be involved with the department.   

LAPD provides a citizen’s academy for local citizens to learn what the department is really like.

The academy is designed to expose citizens to areas of the department they may not see everyday. During the 11-week class, participants see what it is like to make a traffic stop, have to defend themselves and make split-second decisions with a firearm using a simulator.

Citizens also interact with officers on subjects ranging from DWI enforcement, criminal investigations and law.

The academy meets one day a week for three hours in the spring and fall.

Police officers often conduct department tours to classroom groups, student groups, Scouting groups and other community members. 

LAPD also periodically offers one or two internships for high school students after school or during the summer. Interns must be at least 16 years of age and have written approval from their parents or legal guardians.

These internships are paid at the state minimum wage.

Usually, the intern assists in the police records or police administration offices. Often, interns participate in ride-a-longs with officers or public safety aides.

In its effort to provide the best law enforcement services for the community, LAPD is currently going through a voluntary process of accreditation with the state of New Mexico.

“It is a commitment to excellence that drives us to participate in this process, which will enhance the overall services we provide,” Torpy said. “Through this accreditation process, we will evaluate how to provide the best service because it compares our department policies and procedures against best practices in the field of law enforcement. These best practices are currently reflected in 217 standards that cover four general areas; administration, operations, personnel and training.”

This program was initiated through a cooperative effort involving the New Mexico Municipal League, the New Mexico Self-Insurers’ Fund and the New Mexico Association of Chiefs of Police.

Anyone wishing to report illegal or suspicious activity to the police can do so anonymously or otherwise.

Contact police with a description of the activity and as much information as possible such as location, date, time, names of alleged perpetrators at 662-8222.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her newsblog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.