BY LISA S.T. DOSS and NATOSHIA MILES
On April 11, 2017, a Winston-Salem Police officer responded to a call regarding damage to personal property. Active in the Department since 1993, Assistant Chief Natoshia Miles shares, “When we meet people in the community, it usually is because of a crisis. People are at their lowest when they reach out to us. Not all calls are routine or of a police nature and you never know how an officer’s response is going to impact someone or, better yet, how the officer will be impacted. For our officers, they’re empowered when they do something nice, even without acknowledgment.” The officer, on this particular call, learned the trampoline had been damaged shortly after it was purchased as a birthday gift for a child, and set up. Knowing the trampoline would be difficult for the family to replace, the officer reached out to the business and provided his credit card, purchasing a new canopy for the trampoline. Once the business learned of the officer’s generosity, they, too, paid kindness forward by waiving the shipping charges. Celebration day arrived when the officer delivered and installed the new canopy, turning a distressing circumstance into a happy ending.
Community Priority Patrol
As new situations are making bold headlines in the media, the Winston-Salem Police Department is staying in front of information by incorporating strategic approaches to building relationships in the community. As patrol cars are parked and vacated, one approach called “Community Priority Patrol” (CPP) is picking up momentum. In lieu of observing the community from a distance, officers are knocking on doors and engaging citizens in conversations. “We are interested in knowing what their needs are and how we might be able to help, nothing else,” shares Miles, “Members of the WSPD refer to this and other efforts to bridge the gap between the community and the police as the “soft side” of policing. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to and we are not above just listening.” Through adverse times, Miles admits that these connections have been instrumental in bridging gaps between the police and the community. We measure our success by the constant outpouring of support that we see from the Winston-Salem community. We didn’t get to where we are overnight and we are always thinking “outside the box” for ways to improve community-police relations. Thus, making even the smallest of changes to our routine, has proven to be beneficial.”
Seeking to know what is happening in your community, a couple of features offered by the Winston-Salem Police Department are “Police-to-Citizen” (P2C) and Crime Mapping (crimemapping.com) information portals. The WSPD offers transparency on calls for service through the Winston-Salem community. Updated daily, crime statistics and other information is readily available, as well as the option to receive “alerts” or “notifications,” instantly. This is one benefit in lieu of calling the police department. While the media may not always share positive stories about police, the WSPD recently started featuring its own stories such as “Tea Time Party for Women” and “Trust Talks” through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Next Door.
Welcoming the Next Generation
At times, a grand decision arrives on a piece of paper in the form of a flyer. The Bonner-Redd-Surratt-Davis Scholarship Program was named after former police chiefs and staff who promoted or represented diversity within the WSPD. With a promise to maintain a GPA of 3.0, the scholarship offers recipients not only tuition, book costs, and fees to minority students, but an agreement to become an employee with the Winston-Salem Police Department upon graduation. WSPD maintains its commitment to diversity and strives daily to be reflective of the community it serves.