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Initiative to put Reading officers on foot in city neighborhoods

Published On: Feb 11 2013 02:40:15 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 12 2013 05:30:30 AM CST

The Reading Police Department is giving officers their marching orders.

READING, Pa. -

The Reading Police Department is giving officers their marching orders. A new initiative is putting more officers on the streets to get to know their residents better.

Chief Bill Heim said he wants his department to build better relationships with the community.

"We want all the officers to meet community members and even knock on doors and just talk to people about what's happening in their neighborhoods and how the police can help," said Heim.

The city has been split into four sections, where an officer will be patrolling on foot. Sometimes, the officer will be accompanied by a sergeant or other city official, Heim said.

A similar program was introduced in 2007. Six years later, the need exists for officers to get connected again, Heim said.

"We lost about 80 experienced officers in the last couple years. So, we lost a lot of people who knew the community well," said Heim.

More than 60 new officers have joined the department, said Heim.

Some residents said they welcome the opportunity to get to know who is keeping their streets safe. Bill Jones said he hopes more officers on the street will mean fewer criminals.

"Hopefully, it will give some of these knuckleheads the idea they better straighten up," said Jones.

"People feel better. They feel more confident. They feel a higher level of trust when they actually know the police officers that are patrolling their neighborhood," said Heim.