San Diego police officers parked their cruisers and put their shoes on the ground in Mira Mesa on Wednesday night, all in an effort to reconnect with neighborhood residents.
“The goal is to reach them, then basically see what their needs are,” said multicultural community relations sergeant Lem Sensanoy.
Although there was no time off from duties, the coronavirus pandemic shutdown left some San Diego residents and businesses feeling a little distant from their police department.
Members of the SDPD command staff, including Chief Dave Nislit, also took part in the so-called safety walk.
“Now that we are out of COVID, people are feeling more comfortable. This is our opportunity to get out and start reconnecting with our community face-to-face,” said Chief Nislet.
District 6 City Council member Chris Cate said it was an opportunity for officials to reconnect and reassure the community they serve.
“We want to make sure we are recruiting officers, recruiting to retain officers and doing everything we can to maintain a community-oriented police department,” said Counselor Kate .
Sergeant Sansonoy spread good cheer, and also handed out business cards with QR codes that connect people to the SDPD website. The Safety Walk initiative is also promoting the use of online crime reporting.
“Anyone can navigate this, whether it’s to get resources, file reports online, or get up to speed on trends in the city,” said Sergeant Sensanoy.
According to Sensanoy, some crimes go unreported when there is no suspicious information, injury reports or leads in the case. But for insurance purposes, a police report is necessary. It also alerts the police to old problems.
“That was great. I just like to feel so safe. I am so happy they are out now,” said business owner Parveen Singh.
The officials also handed over a mental assessment checklist that includes 15 things that police say citizens should know if they are telling the police about a disturbance involving a family member or someone with a mental or emotional disorder. According to police, knowing the answer could be the difference between a police response appropriate to the situation and a more tragic outcome.
The checklist can be found here.
The next two safety walks will take place later this month in Hillcrest and Gaslamp District.