Good policing pays dividends

Published 10:27 pm Thursday, February 5, 2015

In a year in which the national news was largely dominated by the results of poor relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, it’s refreshing to see the opposite here at home.

Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett this week discussed possible factors in Suffolk’s double-digit decrease in crime in 2014.

“Part I” crimes — a Federal Bureau of Investigation classification including some of the most serious and common crimes — were down 14.2 percent in Suffolk from 2013.

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Surmising why, Bennett mentioned first a good working relationship with the city’s residents that often leads to information and tips, among other factors.

That working relationship not only helps officers solve crime and get the right people into the court system and off the streets but also can prevent some crimes from happening, as the nation witnessed in the dozens arrested in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of a Ferguson, Mo., teen by an officer this summer.

Bennett said hardworking officers, an improving economy, the work of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office in helping get the right people in jail, and the support of City Council and city administration were other factors that likely contributed to the decline.

“A large percentage of crime is committed by just a few people,” he said, explaining why getting the “right” people incarcerated can affect crime numbers.

But, again, as Ferguson illustrated in 2014, perhaps nothing is as important as that relationship with the citizens. The police department works hard to establish and cultivate it through special events like National Night Out and everyday happenings like attending civic league meetings.

That hard work is paying dividends not only in the decreased crime numbers but also in all the things that stem from that — among them, safer neighborhoods, more productive businesses and more time to conduct proactive policing, which will only further enhance the relationship with the citizens.