Takoma Park Police Chief Antonio DeVaul issued a community message Oct. 1 to explain how his department is adapting in light of the divisive police incidents occurring throughout the country.
“The negative national incidents involving police across our country have affected the way all police are viewed by some. We are not immune to the concerns and effects here in Takoma Park,” DeVaul wrote.
During the past three years, the police department has changed from a warrior mentality to a guardian approach by stressing community engagement and problem solving rather than arrests and citations, he noted. The department also has deemphasized low-level drug offenses and instead is focusing on serious crimes and quality of life issues. The department also has increased its community outreach programs, especially among young residents.
Currently, all officers wear body cameras and have video recording devices in their vehicles. “We are committed to holding officers accountable for actions that are inconsistent with the values of our police department and community,” he wrote.
This just in…Message to the Community from Chief DeVaul…We have a progressive police department. That being said, we are always open to findings ways that we can better serve our community. Read more: https://t.co/mDXCq0kCim pic.twitter.com/3XK3Wg2Mpq
— TakomaParkMD (@TakomaParkMD) September 29, 2020
Takoma Park officers will be going through the Active Bystander for Law Enforcement Training that is sponsored by the Georgetown University Law/Shepard Mullin ALBE Project.
Also, officer recruitment has been expanded “to be more effective in attracting people of color and women,” DeVaul wrote.
Overall, the department is taking a more holistic approach to public safety, utilizing more than just police officers. “We will soon be putting together a request for a pilot program that involves mental health professionals on staff,” he wrote.