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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
Sergeant Dale Waltz of the Canton Police Department talks about the importance of introducing Not In Our Town and its model of creating safe and inclusive communities for all the people of Canton, Michigan. Not In Our Town and the COPS Office have joined together in the Safe and Inclusive Communities Initiative, a partnership formed to bring tools and resources to communities that foster collaboration between the people and their police agencies.
This interview is a continuation from last month’s Community Policing Dispatch. Read Part 1 of the interview.
What are the programs that you think are most successful so far? Does Canton use the Nextdoor app? How do you engage the Nextdoor community with Not In Our Town-Canton?
So we’ve taken the Nextdoor app and mixed it with a program called Partners In Your Safety. Partners In Your Safety is a program designed to build a partnership of law enforcement and neighborhoods using the Nextdoor app and it promotes problem solving and creating safer neighborhoods, which sounds right along the lines of Not In Our Town. It really empowers individual neighborhoods with resources and tools to create safer communities. We have 3 phases of Partners in Your Safety: Phase 1 involves establishing a partnership between the police and the neighborhood which we have done through the Nextdoor app. Phase 2 involves proactive involvement by the neighborhood. We have a list of 8 criteria that we wanted the neighborhoods to meet. And one of our 8 criteria was to take the Not In Our Town pledge. Phase 3 is actually an accreditation of the neighborhood for 2 years. So they get an accreditation that says this neighborhood or homeowners association is accredited through the Canton Police Department. Now we have an open communication between the residents and law enforcement. We have had a lot of success with communities in Canton. It is an introduction to residents because if they did not attend the rally or they had not heard of Not In Our Town, it is our opportunity for us to present to them that this is what Not In Our Town is all about, this is what they stand for, this is how we’re working together and this is what the pledge is all about. We’ve had zero resistance to that. Most residents are like “Wow, this is great - this is a great idea.”
Why did your town decide to make a commitment to work as a pilot community for Gold Star Cities? What do you hope to learn?
It was an honor and a goal to be an important community for Not In Our Town. It is an honor to work with them. Also, I think in Canton, we do a lot of things right. We wanted to spread the word to other police departments and our residents and business owners that we want to be a model for other communities about the good things that we’re doing. We also appreciate the resources that would be made available to us by Not In Our Town. To make a commitment to our residents and our business owners and let them know that we find strength in our diversity and we’ll continue to work toward making Canton a great place to live, work and play and improve the quality of life and reduce crime. We feel we share the same values as Not In Our Town. It’s as simple as promoting a commitment to diverse, safe and inclusive communities. It’s also a good outward expression to the community that we’re doing the right things and Not In Our Town has recognized this.
What do you hope to learn?
We want to know what’s working in other communities. What are we missing, what is happening in other communities and we want to learn from them. What can we do better? Are we doing things the right way or are there better ways to do them? Also to learn who are we not reaching with our current efforts. Are there groups or individuals that we are not reaching through our current endeavors? And also what else can Not In Our Town provide us and really learn from Not In Our Town and the folks from Not In Our Town and what training and ideas can be provided by them to us.
Another thing I would like to do in the Committee is to bring the Not In Our School anti-bullying model to the schools. We have a very, very large school district. In Canton alone, we have 3 high schools on one campus with over 6500 students. Bringing the anti-bullying message and the message of peace and acceptance at an early age and as kids grow up is very important as well.
What advice do you have for other law enforcement leaders who want to bring Not In Our Town to their cities?
Just reach out to Not In Our Town, go on their website and look under the tabs that talk about sparking interest in your community and how to get things started in your community. And start using the Not In Our Town resources such as the films like Waking In Oak Creek and some of the other different films and hold screenings in your community and start or continue the discussion. But really, reaching out to Not In Our Town and seeing all of the resources they have to offer is a great beginning.
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