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What Is Community Policing?

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More often than not, you will hear me and members of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office refer to our organization’s dedication to community policing. We take pride in our philosophy of engaging in community policing, something that has dated back to the 1990s. We know it helps our mission of reducing crime and the fear of crime in our county. However, we don’t always explain what community policing is and how it betters the community we live in and serve.

More often than not, you will hear me and members of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office refer to our organization’s dedication to community policing. We take pride in our philosophy of engaging in community policing, something that has dated back to the 1990s. We know it helps our mission of reducing crime and the fear of crime in our county. However, we don’t always explain what community policing is and how it betters the community we live in and serve.


We know that community-based relationships are a center point of effective policing. With this in mind, we always try to have an area patrolled by a deputy sheriff who lives in or near that area. We do this because these deputy sheriffs are familiar with the neighbors and businesses. They know when something doesn’t look right, and they have the relationships needed to keep the area safe. These neighborhoods are, in many cases, quite literally their neighborhoods, too. 


Our deputy sheriffs spend a lot of time in these communities. They are reminding their neighbors to close their garage doors, to lock their cars, to move valuables out of sight. Deputy sheriffs not only visit with the elderly and the infirmed, they also stop in houses of worship and local eateries to get to know the neighborhood and their needs even better. 


Community policing involves educating, informing, and engaging our citizens in schools, public forums, and gathering spots. Sometimes it means creating positive interactions with our youth through our crossing guards, school resource deputies, and comfort K-9s, to something as simple as a deputy stopping to participate in a pickup basketball game. 


We get to know the families and the kids and not just the ones who have fallen off track over the years. This allows us to provide mentoring and friendship to those who need it most in their lives. We know having some of these kids involved in our events like Shop with the Sheriff helps keep them in school and ultimately produces positive outcomes in their lives. 


However, what we must recognize is that community policing is very much a two-way street. Neighbors must remain alert and vigilant in a lawful way. At the root of it, they must be neighborly as well. That means knowing names, phone numbers, and what is to be expected at their house, and on your streets. This information always helps us do our jobs better. It also builds stronger communities.


Community policing means partnering with people in the communities we serve to accomplish our mission: to reduce crime and the fear of crime. I firmly believe this philosophy has helped us see decreases in serious crimes like robbery and burglary by 4 percent so far in 2019, 15 percent in 2018, and 6 percent in 2017. Overall, that’s a 25 percent drop in the past two-and-a-half years. 


At its best, it means a working partnership between deputies and the communities they serve, to maintain quality of life and a safe environment for residents of all ages.


Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma, now in his third year leading the agency, is the 10th sheriff in the history of Seminole County. As the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Sheriff Lemma directs the agency’s enforcement, investigative, correctional, judicial, juvenile, and support services.  


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