ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida police chiefs are making strides to improve relationships within the communities they serve. To do that, according to a recent report by a Florida Police Chief Association subcommittee, police agencies will be focusing on recruiting and community outreach.
What You Need To Know
- A recent report has called for police departments to focus on recruiting and community outreach
- Area nonprofit GROW Central Florida is partnering with law enforcement to help that happen
- More: View the full Florida Police Chief Association report
- RELATED: Law enforcement, community member call for better 1st interactions
The recent report suggests connecting and building a trust with youth and their families could help bridge gaps and change perspective —- an area nonprofit GROW Central Florida is partnering with area law enforcement to do just that.
Colleen Gonzalez heads that organization.
“When officers are on patrol, they can drive by say hello and sometimes they get to know their kids by name," she said.
It is a perfect partnership for Orlando Police Cpl. Marcus Hyatt Orlando Police, who heads up Youth Outreach and works with Gonzalez often. Walking through the Parramore community he said it’s important for police to connect with young people at an early age.
“It is very important to build trust amongst the youth in the community," Hyatt said. "If we wait until they are adults, that is not as successful we want them to see us in a different light."
And that goes for everyone not just youth. The report from the FPCA also suggests increasing diversity within police departments. That is something Hyatt said people in the community want to see it as well.
“We hear from the citizens, the residents there about how important it is to have officers that reflect the community, also serve a community," he said.
Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said his department gets about 4,000-5,000 applications a year. From that pool, they hire around 100 officers, and lose about that same amount each year. They work closely with area colleges to diversify their candidate pool.
Whether it is recruiting or community outreach, Gonzalez said fostering a relationship with youth is the way to go, even if its one step at a time.