Police department creates new community program

BURTON — In an effort to get out into the neighborhoods and to offer as much transparency as possible, the Burton Police Department has created a new community program.

The program, called Community And Resident Equality Services (CARES), is made up of officers from every rank in the department and will also include community members.

Burton Police Chief Brian Ross said plans for neighborhood watch meetings were put on hold during the COVID-19 lockdown, but he said his officers are still working to better serve the community.

“We pushed different ideas and CARES came together,” said Ross, who said he and Mayor Duane Haskins wanted to work on getting police officers into the community to work alongside residents to improve the neighborhoods. “These are groups of officers interested in the community. They’ll meet monthly and provide as many programs and ideas as they can to better serve the community.”

One big part of the CARES program will be a relaunch of the Neighborhood Watch program. Ross said he was working to have the watch groups start meeting again, but when COVID-19 hit it forced him to put everything on hold.

Now, he said, the city is just waiting for the state to give the go ahead for meetings indoors and for people to feel comfortable enough to sit and talk.

Burton officers are going to help provide residents with crime prevention training, hopefully going door-to-door to talk to residents.

“We’re hoping they can suggest things (residents) can do for the neighborhoods to make them look better,” said Ross. “Crime is often connected with blight. When there are streetlights out, clutter in the yards – it all contributes to crime. We want to help the area spruce itself up and help reduce crime.”

There will be several teams of police officers, each with a different mission. Ross said the team that will be dealing with cleaning up neighborhoods has 11 officers on it.

One thing the teams of officers will soon be doing is placing door hangers on doors in the Burton neighborhoods with concerns about potential theft risks or other observations they have about a property.

Ross said if officers observe a concern about a property while on patrol, they will fill out these hangers and place them on the door of local homes. He calls them informational in nature, but adds it is also about better communication in the city’s policing strategy.

In the months ahead, especially over the summer, Ross said he hopes to roll out more programs through CARES and is looking forward to having meetings again for the Neighborhood Watch.

He said there is no additional cost to the CARES program and the police officers involved do so on a voluntary basis.

Details: Call the Burton Police Department at 810-742-2542.