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Cape Girardeau Police Increase 'Foot Patrol' Downtown

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson/KRCU

Starting this month downtown Cape Girardeau will see more police officers patrolling the streets, thanks to a partnership between the Downtown Cape Girardeau Community Improvement District and the city of Cape Girardeau. KRCU’sMarissanne Lewis-Thompson, spoke with Cape Girardeau police Chief, Wes Blair, about the impact this will have on the community.

Lewis-Thompson: So why did you all put additional policing on the streets in downtown Cape?

Blair: One thing it's been a vision of ours for a long time to have some foot patrols in that area. The downtown area is very conducive to officers being on foot, because of the proximity of all the businesses right there and the evening activity that goes on downtown. And we just thought that that would be a good place to do it.

Lewis-Thompson: Now was there a specific reason or event that happened that said, 'okay you know what we need to something about this?’

Blair: No, no specific event. The downtown area recently voted in a CID, and so part of their funding that will come from that is for additional security. So, that's where they wanted us to be.

Lewis-Thompson: So, what have the responses been so far as it relates to the businesses downtown?

Blair: It's all been very, very positive. They like seeing the officers out walking around. They like to have the interaction with the officers, and it fits right in to our model of community policing, because the officers are out there getting to know the people and the business owners, and the people who are downtown for the evening.

Lewis-Thompson: And as you’re probably aware of by now anyway, community policing is something that has been a conversation that we've been having for a while now.

Blair: It is. And sadly, I think sometimes police got a little bit away from the community policing aspect. But it's really the core of what we do. That's how policing started, was foot beats and just being engaged with the community. So, I think in a lot of aspects, we're starting to get back to our roots.

Lewis-Thompson: So, kind of what are you all doing? I know that you all have this Next Door app, or there’s an app that you all use. So, [is that a] new form of policing? Because it sounds really cool.

Blair: Yeah, the Next Door app, is an app that is not owned by us. It's not administered by us, but it's kind of like a neighborhood watch thing that we can plug into as well, and push messages out to specific neighborhoods. And it allows the people in that neighborhood to if they're not outside very much get to know their neighbors through an online app.

Lewis-Thompson: How are you all changing that conversation on community efforts in policing, because right now it's big topic and day to day it's becoming even bigger? What are you all doing in Cape Girardeau to make a difference?

Blair: Well, I think pretty much everything that we do, we put the community focus on it. And we try to engage with the community where they're at, and where the conversations can occur. With whether it be the apps that we're pushing out or our coffee with cops in different neighborhoods, or we even do role calls in different neighborhoods to encourage people to get out of their house and not only meet us, but meet each other and that's really what crime prevention is all about, is getting to know your neighbors. And know who's supposed to be where and who's not supposed to be in your neighborhood. And then communicating with each other.

Lewis-Thompson: And how long are you all going to be doing this, as far as having police officers patrolling the streets? Is this going to be like a spring, summer thing and then come the fall go back to normal or?

Blair: No, this is intended to be throughout. Now obviously if it's extremely inclement weather they may not be out walking on the streets, but they'll still be down there.

Lewis-Thompson: And to sort of wrap things up, are there plans to move this similar approach to different areas throughout the community besides downtown Cape Girardeau if this proves to be more effective?

Blair: Well, I think that's a good point. If we see a whole lot of success with that then we'll start looking at other areas that might be a good model for that. Obviously, there's some parts of town, take the Siemers area where a foot patrol would really not be all that effective, because you spend all your time walking across parking lots from one business to the other. And not really getting to engage with people. But there are parts of town that that might be a benefit for us to do in. And so, gauging the success of our downtown patrols we'll start looking at trying to do what models in other places if it's feasible for us.

Lewis-Thompson: Well, thank you so much Chief Blair for joining me in the studio today.

Blair: Oh thank you. Thanks for having me.

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