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Bureauís aim is to thwart criminals
Bureau’s aim is to thwart criminals
By SUE REID
A National Night Out, hosted for the first time by the Solon Police Department next week, not only will highlight crime prevention and safety-related topics, but also will serve as a kick-off for the department’s crime prevention bureau.
The event, from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Solon Community Center, is open to Solon residents and promotes police-community partnerships, crime, drug and violence prevention, and personal safety and neighborhood unity. It is part of a nationwide event, the National Association of Town Watch, that aims at encouraging communities to be more proactive in crime prevention and committed to looking out for their neighbors.
The Solon department has not had a formal crime prevention bureau or program before, Lt. Bruce Felton said, but it is something that Christopher P. Viland wanted to initiate since becoming police chief in January 2011. A program of this type is extremely valuable, Mr. Felton noted.
“We would much rather prevent things from happening than respond after the fact,” he said. “Anything we can do to prevent crimes from occurring, whether it be as simple as educating residents and giving them tips on how to be safe,” is a benefit.
A crime prevention bureau also is a way of giving residents a better sense of security and empowering them with information that will help keep them from being a victim, Mr. Felton said.
“Even if you live in a safe community, if you ‘don’t feel safe, we didn’t do our job,’” he said. “Crime prevention speaks to that issue.”
The department always has given talks on demand to various groups about crime prevention topics, Mr. Felton said, but finally created a formal crime prevention bureau. At this point, the department has five crime prevention officers, who are certified crime prevention specialists.
“We will continue to develop them so they will gain more knowledge,” he said. “There are so many crime prevention programs and initiatives out there. We will build and develop what we can and make changes along the way.”
An example of part of the crime prevention program is more involvement with the Solon Senior Center.
“Through contact with our seniors, we will be able to determine needs and issues of those residents, who make up a significant portion of our population,” Mr. Felton said. “We want to make sure they are informed and protected.”
The bureau also wants to be a resource for parents dealing with teen issues such as Internet security and dating violence, provide outreach to the business district and help with personal safety, Mr. Felton said.
“Overall, we want to be a resource with everyone in terms of crime prevention,” he said, adding the hope is to eventually be able to offer security surveys to residents and businesses to identify any weaknesses in the security systems and offer help on how to improve it.
The National Night Out will be an opportunity for residents to ask questions of the police department. The event will feature vendors exhibiting various home and personal safety items and services. There also will be activities for children, food and an appearance by McGruff the crime dog.
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