Chief puts office staff on street

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

In response to a rash of break-ins at area car dealerships, the Selma Police Department has announced a new policy aimed at putting more officers on the city streets at night.

Those officers whose duties normally require them to be desk-bound much of the time, such as those in the detective division, or those who have other responsibilities, such as litter control officer, will now be asked to help patrol the city’s streets, Police Chief Robert Green said.

“Those who work in specialized units will be asked to work at least one shift per month,” patrolling Selma’s streets, Green said.

The move, said Green, will add at least 25 additional officers to work the streets, until further notice.

Green said that to set the tone, he himself will work with officers in the patrol division at least once a month.

“I intend to get down into the trenches once again,” Green said with a smile. “The idea here is for everyone to respond and come out and work.”

The new policy follows a series of repeated break-ins at several area car dealerships. Dealers have publicly complained about what they termed a lack of adequate police protection. Initial police reaction to those complaints noted that the department has been experiencing a shortage of officers for some months, and that there are frequently as few as three or four officers to patrol the entire city at night.

Said Green, “Having a shortage of officers is no excuse. There are many police departments in the country who have an officer shortage. This just means we have to work a little harder.”

Besides creating the policy, Green also said that he had advice for business owners in the area who have been subject to incidences of breaking and entering on a regular basis. He has asked business owners to combat crime through what is termed a “crime prevention through environmental design philosophy.”

That philosophy includes such things as natural access control as well as surveillance.

“The objective” of natural access control, according to a press release issued by Green,

“is to decrease or minimize criminal opportunities through mechanical means (fences, alarms, cameras).”

Surveillance by businesses, he said, can be done by such things as good lighting in the area, or having windows where one can easily view the area outside the business.

“Landscaping,” said Green, “is also important. Proprietors should make it easy for patrol officers to check their respective businesses by ensuring that adjacent alleys are kept clear of vegetation and debris.”

“Proprietors,” he added, “can also eliminate possible hiding or entrapment spots along pedestrian paths.”

Green also noted that such things as audible alarms and guard dogs are an excellent way to deter intruders from entering areas.

However, the most important thing, said Green, is that “property owners should not become criminal facilitators.”

Addressing the rash of break-ins that have hit Selma’s car dealerships in recent months, Green said, “Owners of dealerships should ensure that all vehicles are properly secure and that keys are not stored in the vehicles. Also, fences that have been damaged by past intruders should be promptly repaired.”

Responding to published reports by a dealer who complained that police had not responded to a break-in at his car dealership, Green asked that all complaints from victims be promptly reported to him personally.

Said Green, “As far as that goes, I didn’t hear anything about the complaint from the owner. Before he tells anybody else, he needs to tell me first.”