Taking back neighborhoods; Montgomery police try new approach to prevent crime

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email


First, some housekeeping matters in the roll call room at the Montgomery Police Department before scores of police officers hit the streets

"This isn't just about writing tickets," said acting Montgomery police chief Kevin Murphy.

We hit the road ourselves with Corporal N.M. Steeley as our driver.

"I'm looking for to it," said Steeley.

A veteran, Steeley typically works an investigator in the robbery-homicide division, but today Steeley is back where she started 11 years ago on the road and loving every minute of it.

"If I can just help someone today I'll know I've done my job," said Steeley.

Corporal Steeley is part of the city's Take Back Our Neighborhood campaign. Those who work in the administration part of the police department put on a uniform and flooded the city in their assigned patrol cars. In all the department put 115 extra sworn officers on top of the regular afternoon shift just in time for the Christmas shopping season.

"Violent crime is down 11% this year but the perception is that it's not. I am always having people talk to me about crime," said Mayor Todd Strange.

"We want to make the shopping areas safe but we also want to increase our presence in every corner," said Murphy.

Corporal Steeley did just that by stopping at a convenience store that's been robbed before on the Troy Highway. A brief 'hello' to let the cashier know she's around and will be watching.

In a way this is an experiment to see how well it goes. City leaders plan to do the same thing next Friday and maybe more frequently next year but unannounced.

The police department says this is not costing taxpayers any overtime money, although it does mean shifting resources which is why this kind of beefed-up presence can't be done everyday.

"You can't do this at the expense of taking people away permanently from their investigating jobs," said Montgomery Public Safety Director Chris Murphy.

Despite the added patrols today Colonel Murphy insists they had enough personnel at the police department to continue duties such as investigative work.

Back on the road with Corporal Steeley, she's doing her part to preserve the holiday peace.

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