Eyes On Richmond - Police Chief Bryan Norwood
On Friday, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church hosted Richmond Police Chief Bryan Norwood for a conversation on effective law enforcement and citizen engagement as part of the Eyes on Richmond speaker series. Craig Carper reports.
Police Chief Norwood, who was appointed in November of 2008, commands Richmond’s police staff of 760 sworn officers and 170 civilian employees.
He says his hands-on approach to law enforcement is an extension of the work of his predecessor, Chief Rodney Monroe, and a part of a philosophy they call community policing.
Norwood: Some of the methodologies behind community policing, good old-fashioned walking beats. With good old-fashioned walking beats, it takes a police officer out of a car and allows them to have access to the people which they serve. It creates conversation and dialogue and with that conversation and dialogue, we learn exactly what we need to know.
Number two, asking our officers to be problem solvers, a problem solver is someone who goes to a call and realizes that they need not come to that call again. In other words, if you have a burglary or robbery in your neighborhood and something continues to happen, our job as a police department is to figure out a way for it not to happen again, to solve that issue. With that, we’re starting to mitigate crime, we’re starting to learn where the trends are and we're starting to be ahead of it.
We use crime analysis. Every single Monday and Friday in the police department, we go through every number of every crime that ever happens in this city. So much so that we can almost predict where crime may be and with that methodology we deploy our strategies accordingly.
Norwood tries to take every opportunity to engage the public; one of his favorite ways is through something he calls a command walk.
Norwood: So most businesses have staff meetings, right? We have a staff meeting every Monday, but once a month I bring that staff meeting out into the street. So I have all my command staff and all my participants walk a community that may need something to be addressed. 30 people will take a walk through a neighborhood and ask, ‘What can we do better? How can we help you?’ and it works.
One division of the police force Norwood says he's particularly proud of is the Hope Unit, which he says has had success assisting the city’s homeless community.
Norwood: Every single day, I have officers assigned to go and check on our homeless. Three o’clock in the morning, two o’clock at night, we do it. We have officers who are dedicated to making sure that those homeless are served with dignity, and that if there are issues within their own personal life that we can help with, we make sure we do that. So they’re not the typical police, they’re more of a social worker in that environment.
Chief Norwood stressed community participation in law enforcement and calls Richmond’s citizens the eyes and ears of the police force.
Norwood: The other day I was at a crime scene, very tragic scene. 15 minutes after I got there, 20 people had come forward to say what they thought had happened. 24 hours later that crime was solved. Not through anything you might see on television but through a phone call from a concerned citizen who trusts this police department.
After the event, Chief Norwood discussed various ways citizens can help the police and the community as a whole.
Norwood: Every sector of the city has a Sector Lieutenant; he or she holds community meetings every month and has a newsletter that goes out every month as well. Get involved, go to the meeting, be empowered, be educated.
To find out more about Police Department news and events in your neighborhood, you can go to richmondgov.com/police.
Craig Carper, WCVE News, Richmond