MARION, Iowa (KCRG TV9)- As the city of Marion grows, police are working on a new strategic plan to better protect the community. Since 1990, the population of Marion has doubled to more than 40,000 residents.
The Marion Police Department on Wednesday. Police leaders have met and worked on future police strategies the last two days.
And police leaders say the department needs to adapt to the different needs of a larger community compared to past years.
One sign of a new policing strategy in Marion actually started April 1st.
Officers will now get out of squad cars occasionally and work, or even walk, a “beat” system. That means each officer having a responsibility for different parts of town and making getting-to-know-you visits to individual businesses.
Rich Foens, owner of Smitty’s Shoe Repair in downtown Marion, says he has a number of officers as customers. But hasn’t had one walk in while on their “beat” just yet. But he does like the idea.
“I think they need one on one personal relationships to build a rapport,” Foens said.
For the last two days, Marion officers and police leaders have met with Nola Joyce, a national police methods consultant. Joyce agrees the old technique of officers occasionally walking a beat does have a place in a modern police strategy.
“Part of what policing is…is to understand what doesn’t fit and by becoming really knowledgeable of your area, you’re going to become a better police officer and you’re going to promote public safety,” she said.
Marion Police Chief Joe McHale is a fan of “data-driven” policing. That’s using criminal information on computers to target where crime occurs most often in a city and to focus resources there.
McHale says those kind of crime fighting ideas he brought when he became chief nearly a year and a half ago will certainly be a part of Marion’s policing plan in the future.
“How do we know where we’re going to be in the next five years unless we plan goals and objectives to get there. Marion is growing, thriving and we’re known as one of the safest cities in Iowa. And to keep it that way we better have a plan to grow,” McHale said.
The National Technical Training Assistance Center provided funding to bring in a consultant to help Marion Police plan new policing strategies for the future.