Neighbors concerned about losing community police

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some neighborhood leaders are questioning a police reassignment of Community Interaction Officers to answer 911 calls.

In Indian Mound, neighbors said Budd Park had been a source of problems that specialized community officers helped eliminate.

Some are worried that without officers dedicated to specific neighborhoods to work side-by-side with citizens, proactive efforts to prevent crime and blight will greatly diminish.

In the Northeast, Community Interaction Officers have been particularly effective in connecting with neighbors at meetings and attacking crime trends. The cooperation helps coordinate neighborhood cleanups and gets action on abandoned buildings that are a source of trouble.

Police Chief Darryl Forte said he wants all police officers to build these sort of personal relationships. Some said that sounds good, but they aren't sure it can be done.

"Nowadays our officers aren’t living in our neighborhoods anymore," said Manny Abarca, vice president of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association. "So to think that the officers who patrol our streets, I’ve ridden along with some of those officers. We went from call, to call, to call, to call, to call. We didn’t have time to stop and have lunch or stop and go to a neighborhood meeting."

Not all neighborhoods oppose the change. In nearby Pendleton Heights, a neighborhood leader said she's open to new ideas in policing. She said community police officers have been around for nearly 30 years, and it's time to try something new.

"Modern times need new thinking," said Jessica Ray, president of the Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association.

Forte is giving commanders 90 days to develop a plan for all patrol officers to better interact with neighbors on their beats.