Community outreach continues to be a strong push for the Ridgecrest Police Department. Already, the department has hosted "Coffee with a Cop" and conducted two door-to-door operations where officers speak with residents or leave door hangers with information.
Now RPD will branch out in other directions, according to RPD Chief Jed McLaughlin.
We are looking at implementing a leadership program for youth here at the police department based on Stephen Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' and effective leadership," McLaughlin said. "There is actually a program designed centered around youth."
A celebrated author, Dr. Stephen Covey has written books on leadership and self-effectiveness, along with developing educational courses on the same topic. '7 Habits' broke the mold in selling more than 25 million copies since its first publication in 1989.
McLaughlin said that in the next month or two, RPD will begin looking for youth who might be interested in participating.
"In the next month or two we should start kicking off and looking for interested youth in the community," he said. "This will be open to people that this would benefit."
McLaughlin said RPD is still working out the logistics on how long the program will run.
Another outreach project takes a page from the "Coffee with a Cop" program and introduces a literary component for children.
"We're going to start 'Reading with a Cop' and go to the elementary schools to read," McLaughlin said. With 'Reading with a Cop,' it allows these little kids to meet officers and build a relationship so that when they see them in the store 10 or 15 years later, it'll be like 'I know that officer.'"
Outreach programs are nothing new for RPD or other law enforcement agencies.
Agencies like the California Highway Patrol and Kern County Sheriff's Office host similar events, and they aren't exclusive to just those agencies. CHP, KCSO and China Lake Police Department were all represented at when the November Ridgecrest "Coffee with a Cop" event was held at McDonald's.
McLaughlin said these events are important.
"One thing is that this benefits both the officers and the community," McLaughlin said. "It puts a name to the face between the officers and citizens."
It also changes the dynamic of how the community might see officers.
"It also puts it on a different platform of meeting with citizens, whether it's 'Coffee with a Cop' or going door-to-door. These are meant to put the officers interacting with the public — not during an on-call situation but more person-to-person," McLaughlin said. "It continues to build trust and lets us get feedback from the community on whether any information they want to pass on to us, or us providing tips or details for how they can help themselves."
Going door-to-door is a good example, he said.
"Going door-to-door has been hugely successful in the two we've run so far," McLaughlin said. "We weren't sure what to expect.Officers have been at houses for 20-25 minutes just talking about random things. It gives a different relationship when you're just showing up to talk."
Another event RPD will hold will be the Dec. 16 'Shop with a Cop,' which pairs an officer with children for Christmas shopping. 'Shop with a Cop' is a program sponsored by the Police Employee’s Association of Ridgecrest.
The goal of Shop with a Cop is to provide a fun-filled day for a number of children in need throughout Ridgecrest while creating positive relationships with law enforcement. This unique December shopping experience assists children and can deter them from choosing a life of crime or violence. Police officers will be working with local schools and other organizations to select candidates for the program.
The Police Employee’s Association is also seeking additional donations from those who would like to assist in this event. We would like to reach as many children as possible to help them and their families during the holiday season.
PEAR is also seeking additional donations from those who would like to assist in this event. We would like to reach as many children as possible to help them and their families during the holiday season.
If you have any questions or would like to make a donation contact the Ridgecrest Police Department at (760) 499-5100, the Ridgecrest Police Facebook page or by emailing Sgt. Groves at email@example.com.
December's "Coffee with a Cop" event will be held at Calvary Chapel, 210 E. Springer Ave. off of College Heights Blvd. at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 10.