Sheriff Matt Myers has been leading community meetings around Bartholomew County in an effort to meet residents and hear their concerns. Already he’s conducted them in Hope, Clifford and Elizabethtown. The next one is Saturday in Ogilville, and another is June 16 in Taylorsville.
Conducting these meetings is a good idea, and residents of Ogilville and Taylorsville should consider attending.
An important benefit of having them is building relationships among residents, the sheriff and his department. The sheriff wants residents to feel comfortable enough to report any suspicious activity or share tips they may have. Residents need to have trust in sheriff’s deputies to call them for help. Face-to-face meetings with the sheriff should help facilitate relationship building and trust.
These meetings come at a good time because rural residential burglaries in Bartholomew County are up 64 percent during the first four months of the year, the sheriff’s department reports. These gatherings in areas where the department patrols allow Myers to explain what’s happening and receive feedback. He already has heard concerns about break-ins, plus other issues such as speeding.
Another benefit is that the feedback can be used constructively to help areas of the county. Such community policing steps already have made a difference in the city.
The Columbus Police Department — of which Myers was a member before becoming sheriff — put an emphasis on patrolling in troubled neighborhoods in part because of feedback received from residents. Face-to-face meetings in the city also helped establish neighborhood watch groups — something Myers is pushing for in rural communities.
The key to community policing is engagement with residents. One way to foster it is with personal interaction. That makes the sheriff’s community meetings valuable and worth attending.
Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers has scheduled the following the following community meetings this month:
Ogilville: 6 p.m. Saturday at the Southwest Fire Department, near State Road 58 and County Road 525S.
Taylorsville: 6 p.m. June 16 in the German Township Fire Department, 9428 Main St.