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ISSUE: EPD's open house
OUR VIEW: Outreach builds community
Public relations sometimes can be as simple as opening the door.
The Elizabethtown Police Department invited the community to visit its headquarters and get acquainted last Saturday. By all accounts, it was an informative and fun opportunity. It reminds us all that breaking down barriers begins with getting acquainted.
At times, veteran police officers can projected a jaded image. If you encountered people daily when they are undergoing high stress and even in situations of life-threatening peril, you might react with caution too.
At times, the public greets police officers in less than pleasant ways. Our expectations are huge: Keep us and our stuff safe in all circumstances but look the other way when we mash down on the accelerator or otherwise cross the line.
Meeting each other with a smile and a handshake in the pleasant setting of an open house is a good idea. EPD was pleased with the turnout, according to its spokesman, and overwhelmed by the positive feedback offered by visitors and posted on the department’s Facebook page.
It was the first time since the department’s office on South Mulberry was built seven years ago that an open house had been held. Hopefully, the community won’t have to wait another seven years.
EPD is not alone in providing community interaction with its residents.
Many local police agencies periodically offer Citizens Police Academies to demystify their processes and introduce residents and officers.
The DARE program often is the first opportunity for children to meet police officers up close. It’s focus on drug abuse prevention is a vital community service but the socialization with officers and children is equally valuable.
Other community outreach efforts such as Shop with a Cop provide similar proactive interaction.
Police participate in local community events, including festivals and parades. Officers can be seen running bounce houses and operating remote-controlled mini-squad cars.
It would be incorrect to see these activities as trivial. Law enforcement can be a community matter, not just the responsibility of a few uniformed officers.
If positive community relations are built through open doors, handshakes and communication, the entire population can be keyed into safety pursuits and enforcement. Working with police, rather than fearing their arrival, will make Hardin County a much safer place to live, work and enjoy.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise's editorial board.