Rome Police are rolling out a revolutionary new division dubbed the Community Impact Unit. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us about their newest crime-fighting tool and its surprising origins.
ROME, N.Y.-- Peter Maher like most interns is with the Rome Police Department to learn as much as he can. But this senior at Hamilton College is probably the best intern they've ever had.
"He's got a lot of opportunities that he could be doing other things in bigger places than in Rome, New York," Police Chief Kevin Beach said.
Maher authored a two year study of the Rome Police Department focused on factors specific to the city.
"Like the departure of Griffiss Air Force and the disappearance of the industrial stability that Rome once had and how that all sort of combines into how Rome is policed," Maher said.
And his research has led to some serious change.
"We created what I believe is an outstanding unit that's data driven and relies on the impact from citizens," Maher explained.
On Monday, Rome's Police Department announced the creation of the Community Impact Unit, a group of four officers who will patrol by foot, by bicycle and only when necessary by car.
The city says you will probably see these officers walking the streets and they will probably approach you. But that doesn't necessarily mean you're in trouble.
"When you put an officer out there on foot and allow them to speak to the business owners, the residents face-to-face, it can only improve relations," said Beach
They will also be mapping crime to find and alert the public of crime hot spots and other patterns.
Maher says part of the purpose of the unit is to prevent minor crimes from escalating.
"It's important to attack these problems from the root cause rather than just sort of shave the top off them," he said.
The price tag on the project is fairly low, with the only new cost being uniforms. City Hall has already bought in.
"We have a completely new set of social and economic issues that are plaguing our neighborhoods. This type of innovative and very creative affect to the problem is going to be very... effective actually is what I wanted to say," said Mayor Joe Fusco.
The 90 day trial program will hit the streets September 4th. Police say they expect to see a rise in reported crime, and then a decrease if the proactive project proves effective.
You can request the Impact Unit patrol your neighborhood by calling (315) 525-8015 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.