Greenville implements community policing unit to build trust with residents

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - When you see an officer, your first thought might be that there could be some trouble around.

One police department wants to change that and create new perceptions that are more positive.

Dorothy Daniels lives in an area of Greenville where crime was a common occurrence.

"Shooting at night, young ladies walking the streets," she says.

She says within the past eight months, she's seen "a big change" that is mainly due to a new police unit that's community driven.

"My officers, my boys, my sons come, they're over here all the time," Daniels says.

It's a closeness Daniels feels towards the two officers assigned to her area, a trust built between them thanks to a newly implemented community policing unit designed to fulfill one purpose.

"It's about relationship building, because if you build those relationships, you'll get those phone calls to help know when things are happening," explains Greenville Mayor Kandie Smith.

Officer Alison Blackmon is one of six officers placed in three jurisdictional zones in the city to answer a different calling.

"We're community service, we're here to serve the people, so if you see something suspicious or you see something that isn't right, call us," she says.

Officer Brian Gillian says it's about telling officers about criminal concerns, gang activity and other community concerns that patrol officers wouldn't have the time to dedicate themselves to.

"Once you get to know people, they start to trust you and once they trust you they want to talk to you," Gillian tells WITN.

"This unit, what we're about, them coming to us, that we have that relationship with them," Blackmon goes on to say.

Going above and beyond to create a safer city for everyone.

The officers say they will go door to door and talk to residents so they can have their number to directly contact them about community concerns.