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Public Safety Blog Series-Community Policing in Action: Mankato’s Tapestry Project (Authored by Todd A. Miller, Director of Public Safety, Mankato Department of Public Safety, Mankato, MN)

Each year, at the IACP Annual Conference, we celebrate the best in community policing through the IACP and Cisco Community Policing Awards. In Mankato, MN, we are living proof of the impact community policing can have on communities.

IACP-MankatoWhen we look at critical incidents and threats to public safety, we see that they transcend race, mental state, gender, ideology and other differentiators. They can happen anywhere and in any size city, and it is our job to prevent, deter, respond and recover from those incidents. Of all these, prevention and deterrence are by far the most imperative as you have saved resources and possibly lives, and then you don’t need the efforts and expense of recovery.

To prevent and deter, a police department, city and other public safety agencies must leverage partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the conditions that give rise to such incidents and threats. With resources limited by current economic conditions, the force multiplication agencies receive by implementing the community policing philosophy and partnering with citizens is the most effective means of making our communities safer.

The philosophy behind community policing goes far beyond simply improving community relations and police visibility in neighborhoods, etc. It requires proactive intervention, which requires understanding of why, when and where crime takes place – and by whom. We must understand the conditions under which crime takes place – social, political, economic, cultural, etc.

In Mankato, we benefit from a highly diverse population and mix of cultures. In recent years, we have seen a large influx of refugees coming to our community, mainly from Eastern Africa.  These refugees have almost no knowledge of American life and very limited resources. This population is vulnerable to crime and fear of crime due in part to isolation. Since isolation tends to breed disenfranchisement, we recognized that a community policing initiative would have an impact – and the Tapestry Project was born.

By partnering with community organizations and fully involving the refugee community as an equal stakeholder, the Tapestry Project has built a strong community through education, mentorship and cross cultural communication. See more of our story in this video:

As Chair of the IACP Community Policing Committee, I congratulate this year’s winners and finalists and I encourage you to check out the IACP Community Policing Awards to learn more about community policing and the initiatives of past winners; it may give you ideas to address an ongoing problem in your community. While you are checking out our website, consider if maybe your department should be nominated for 2014. Complete instructions on how to submit are posted on the site.

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