Albemarle County's police chief says a major change is underway inside his department. Soon it will mean an entirely different way officers patrol the county.
The new method is called geopolicing, which means patrolling Albemarle based on location, rather than a certain time of the day. Albemarle County Police Chief Steve Sellers says the old way of doing things is outdated, and change is needed.
Sellers wants officers to get to know community members "personally so they can be more engaged and help us fight crime," he said.
For three decades, the police department has assigned officers to patrols based off time of day. Now the shift is to base the patrols off location through geopolicing.
Lt. Peter Mainzer, with the Albemarle County Police Department, said, "This is the strategy that we need to kind of move us into the future."
Albemarle has 122 officers covering 726 square miles, which can be a challenge. Phase one of the plan is now underway. Albemarle will be cut up into two districts: Jefferson and Blue Ridge. Each district will be divided into four sectors.
Officers will have long-term assignments in those sectors. "They'll be able to focus more of their time on community-based problems, neighborhood-based problems," said Mainzer.
The idea is to promote that proactive problem-solving and increase community collaboration. Sellers said, "We need to be more responsive to our community and we need to work more collaboratively with them."
The past 45 days have been spent retraining officers on the concept. Police have also reached out to other departments, including social services and zoning, to collaborate on that proactive problem-solving component.
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