Contact Us

To provide feedback on the Community Policing Dispatch, e-mail the editorial board at

To obtain details on COPS Office programs, publications, and resources, contact the COPS Office Response Center at 800-421-6770 or

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services

145 N Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20530

June 2024 | Volume 17 | Issue 6

JPD’s winning photo contest image features Lt. Waddell with a citizen at bingo night.

“It’s a big small town,” said Sarah Sinese, Public Affairs Coordinator for the Jacksonville (North Carolina) Police Department (JPD). “It’s big in that there is a lot of local business and the military bases, United States Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and New River Air Station, bring in a lot of new people who are stationed here for a period of time. But many residents have been in Jacksonville for generations, and because it’s so friendly and inclusive, it has a small-town feel. This small-town feel is reflected in the photo of Lieutenant Vincent Waddell at a bingo game our Community Services Division coordinated with a local nursing and rehabilitation center in May 2023. We go out at least quarterly to community organizations and are increasing our efforts to reach out to senior citizens and other vulnerable populations. Residents of care facilities often don’t get much company and our visits gives them a chance to connect with law enforcement, which they may not be able to do on their own.”

“We also support Jacksonville’s vulnerable populations with our CARE Program,” said Police Chief and Public Safety Director Michael G. Yaniero. “It allows families of senior citizens or anyone needing regular check-ins to register their loved one for automated calls from our 911 center. It’s supervised by our Dispatch staff, who will ask about desired frequency and if the individual has secondary contacts for the staff to connect with if necessary. The dispatcher will send somebody out if there is a need for help.”

A similar initiative is the JPD Help Me Home program, which serves families whose loved ones have cognitive impairments or mental health disorders and have wandered away or need assistance to get home. When families register their loved one with the JPD, they provide information that will enable first responders to quickly identify and communicate with the lost individual and get them back home safely.

Chief Yaniero added, “Our dispatchers have been trained to recognize what types of calls warrant what kind of response. For instance, the mental health team will be dispatched to respond to a mental health crisis. Another officer will go out to help somebody who wanders away or has a cognitive issue.”

Ongoing outreach and education for a transient city

Engaging with the community at National Night Out.

These are just a few of the multiple programs the JPD offers to the community, because this “big small town”—which began as the center of a centuries-old farming community and is now the commercial hub of Onslow County as well as home to two large military bases—has a regularly changing population. To serve this varied community of about 81,000 people, the 130 sworn officers and 36 support staff led by Chief Yaniero provide a wide variety of community policing programs in addition to public safety services.

Said Chief Yaniero, “To properly serve our military residents requires frequent efforts to outreach. Because the people stationed here are transient, they may not even know where we are located, much less what services we provide. We routinely give presentations at the bases. Several months ago, our mental health team went out to speak about suicide prevention and mental wellness, for instance.”

Added Sinese, “A lot of military also live off base. That population is routinely reached through communication with the local community via social media PSAs (public service announcements) on topics related to traffic, department events, and general public safety. Our chief and law enforcement staff also go to churches and community centers to have coffee and speak with citizens about current public safety issues and the services and programs we provide.”

Front Porch Roll Calls bring community and police together

One of these programs is Front Porch Roll Call, which is held in response to community members who ask the JPD to speak to the neighborhood about security measures. Community officers may also initiate a Front Porch Roll Call by asking neighborhood associations, business owners, or property managers if they would like an officer to meet with residents to discuss measures they can take to improve their safety.

During these briefings, officers will provide an overview of crime patterns and other important information impacting community members. In addition to answering questions about community concerns, officers build relationships with residents and learn what the top priorities are in the neighborhoods they patrol.

An example Sinese gives is when a property manager of a predominantly Spanish-speaking mobile home community asked the department to speak to residents. “One of the department’s Spanish-speaking community officers arranged for fellow officers, agency staff, and representatives from local support organizations to talk about services ...the people in that community might not have known existed,” she said.

Like law enforcement in many cities, one of the JPD’s biggest areas of concern is drug and substance abuse. The department adopted a program called Comprehensive Opioid Stimulant and Substance Use Program (COSSUP) in 2019 with funding from a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Community policing programs for all ages and concerns

Jacksonville officer leading the D.A.R.E program for students.

In addition to helping students resist peer pressure to experiment with alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, and other dangerous drugs, D.A.R.E. teaches them skills for avoiding involvement in gangs and violence. The JPD also conducts a vaping prevention program called Catch My Breath.

Among their other community policing programs are a public safety explorer program for students aged 14 to 20, a community watch program in which community members actively work with the JPD to reduce crime in their communities, and a bicycle safety program for young people. But according to Sinese, the department is on the lookout for more. “We are always looking for additional ways to expand our community policing program with new initiatives,” she said. “We’re out talking to people, asking what kinds of programs they would like to see, and every year we address our community’s greatest needs through Project 365, part of our city’s National Night Out Against Crime campaign. This year our focus was on crime and theft prevention, as well as substance use and mental health resources. [More than] 500 individuals received training in crime prevention techniques and approximately 75,000 [civilians] in the city and surrounding area engaged in substance use/mental health outreach.”

Chief Yaniero added, “The information we receive from [community members], local leaders, and business owners helps inform areas for improvement, setting goals for the year, deciding on areas to put our manpower and resources to work to address the most important needs of our community.”

The JPD has recently been rewarded for their efforts with national re-accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) for meeting its high professional standards, an honor shared by only about 30 percent of all U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Faye C. Elkins
Sr. Technical Writer
COPS Office

Images Courtesy of Jacksonville (North Carolina) Police Department.

Subscribe to Email Updates

To sign up for monthly updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your email address in the Subscribe box.