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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
The COPS Office is pleased to feature the March 2017 winner of the Community Policing in Action Photo Contest—The Marietta (Georgia) Police Department. In the winning photo, Marietta Middle School Resource Officer Matt Arrington, Community Outreach Sergeant Ben Mixon, and Training Sergeant Dave Collins are spending some quality time with a Marietta Middle School student.
“When the community participates [in public safety], everyone wins because we have a safer community.” Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn advocates for community policing because, in his more than 40 years in law enforcement, it has worked. Having served as chief of the Marietta Police Department (MPD) for ten years, Flynn attributes the department’s successful community policing efforts not only to its officers, but to city leaders and community members who want effective public safety partnerships.
Marietta, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, has a diverse population of approximately 60,000. Flynn describes it as a growing suburban residential community that is home to a highly educated population. It is home to Kennesaw State University and Life University.
MPD offers a number of community-oriented programs that target its residents’ interests, such as the Pastor’s Police Academy, the Media Police Academy, CRASE (Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events), and gun safety seminars. These programs reflect the needs of the community, and the MPD makes it a priority to be responsive to national and local events.
Flynn touts the M-STAR (Marietta Strategically Targeting Areas with Resources) program as the reason the MPD is so successful in its public safety efforts. As Flynn describes it, the M-STAR program encompasses all of the components of community policing— community partnerships, problem solving, and data-driven results. Through M-STAR, MPD reviews monthly data(including crime statistics, calls for police service, arrests, citations, etc.) by zone. The commanders of each zone present this data during a monthly meeting with department leaders, and they each engage in problem solving to address any trends or patterns. After meeting internally, zone commanders conduct community town halls, sharing the data publicly while soliciting feedback and criticism. All questions, complaints, and suggestions are documented, and commanders take action during the month and report back to the community at the following month’s town hall. The meetings not only provide an opportunity for community members to voice their concerns to the department, but also help MPD come up with proactive and creative ways to address public safety issues.
“As a result of M-STAR, in 2015 we had a 6 percent reduction in Part 1 UCR Crime, and in 2016 we had another 8 percent reduction on top of the prior 6 percent. We focused on problems at hotels. Overall crime is at an all-time low for the city of Marietta,” shared Flynn. “In 2016, we were up about 6,000 calls for police service even though we were down in crime. When we analyzed it, if the public was calling us 6,000 times more than they did the year before and crime was down; what I get from that is that the public trusts us more. They’re calling us more often.”
Building relationships of trust starts early in Marietta. The MPD partners closely with Marietta Public Schools and participates in a number of activities and events with school-aged children. In this month’s featured photo, MPD SWAT team members are pictured during a picnic in the park with Marietta Middle School’s Special Needs Class. The officers brought stickers, badges, and a puppet raccoon, Bandit. Tristian (featured in the photo) was enjoying his time interacting with Sergeant Dave Collins and Bandit when his mother snapped the photo.
Moments like these are not so rare with Marietta Public Schools. The MPD offers many programs for the school-aged children, including recent programming for child online safety. The school system is very supportive of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program. “One of our SROs was offered the opportunity to get certified as a teacher. The school system paid for it. And now he works as a teacher on school safety,” shared Flynn.
“We have a really good population here,” said Flynn. “There’s a sense of community between churches and civic organizations and all kinds of other groups. Lots of folks have a sense of community and that translates into working with and supporting the police.”
The COPS Office congratulates the Marietta Police Department for being one of the 12 winners of the COPS Office 2017 Community Policing in Action Photo Contest and for its commitment to community policing.
Written with contributions from Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn. Photo courtesy of the Marietta Police Department and taken by Jessica Hembree.
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