In years past the beat cop was a familiar sight in most cities around the country. The citizens in the neighborhoods all knew the officer that walked by their houses and businesses each day. They knew him by name and often engaged him in conversation about whatever the topic of the day was. The relationship between the police and the community was one of trust and understanding. Any time that a citizen had a law enforcement related question all they had to do was wait until the beat cop came by. Fulton was no exception. Throughout the 40s 50s and part of the 60s an officer could be found in the downtown area walking his beat.
As cities nationwide grew, there was more area to police. Police departments became more reactive than proactive. Police responded to calls for service from citizens and focused primarily on arresting offenders, after crimes had been committed. With tight budgets, police departments could not afford to hire more police officers to keep up with the growth and cover the expanding beat. Police officers had to rely on motor vehicles to more efficiently cover their assigned area.
The result was that police officers lost a valuable tool. They lost the daily contact with citizens. The motor vehicle became a bubble of sorts that made the officer seem unapproachable. They lost community involvement, critical to good policing.
Under community policing, the officer is again placed back in areas where daily contact with citizens occurs. Programs like DARE, School Resource Officers, and Public Housing Officers now leave the bubble of their vehicles and again walk a beat in our schools and public housing areas.
Programs like neighborhood watch illicit citizens to work with the police to make their neighborhoods a safer place to live. Citizens again have the daily contact that encourages trust and understanding.
The Fulton Police Department has a proactive approach to crime through Crime Prevention. Working with citizens hand in hand to prevent crimes from occurring instead of reacting to crimes after they occur.