Most local residents have only fleeting contact with the police who protect them.
Their knowledge of police work often is limited to reading arrest and incident reports or stories about criminal behavior or accidents in The Republic.
As such, the work done by these officers is often taken for granted, the assumption being that members of the department go into action in response to some sort of situation or a call for assistance.
Indeed, those calls would suffice to keep most shift officers busy throughout their work period, but Columbus police have been adopting new approaches that produce results but often go unnoticed.
The name of this system fits in well with the mission — Officer Initiated Activity.
It’s also called proactive policing or Stop Crime Before It Starts.
Whatever the name, the intent is to empower shift officers to initiate activity on their own in addition to responding to calls.
The numbers in the first eight months of the year show the results. There has been:
- A 65 percent increase in finding open doors.
- A 42 percent increase in follow-up reports.
- A 26 percent increase in checking on suspicious individuals.
- A 14 percent increase in traffic stops.
- A total of 19,129 officer-initiated contacts, exceeding the number of citizen calls for service during the same eight-month period, which was 18,230.
In many of these officer-initiated contacts, such as checking on suspicious individuals or finding open doors, there has been no need for actions such as an arrest.
However, there have been a number of instances when a potential crime was averted because of the action taken under this policy.
In some cases, this approach sends a message to would-be offenders — the police are watching.