Overland Park police doubles size of community policing unit to make valuable connections

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- When it comes to safety, one local police department wants to connect with you before an emergency happens.

The Overland Park Police Department has doubled their community policing unit. The “COPPS Unit” now includes 6-8 full time employees across the city.

The program started nearly 10 years ago in north Overland Park. It was so successful, the department decided to expand it south of Interstate 435.

"We go out. We engage the community by going to neighborhood meetings, by hosting some of these events," Sgt. Zach Stephens said.

On Wednesday, the job brought the officers to Target, picking up school supplies to donate to students in need.

"We collected $631.76 in cash donations," Stephens said. "Come out here with extra money and now purchasing more supplies."

Another stop on Wednesday brought them to Pilgrim Coffee for some coffee with a cop.

Stephens said the goal is to focus on places where they can get to know people personally so officers can respond before a problem arises.

"On the other side of the equation is problem solving. That is when the unit shifts to a different gear and trouble shoot any on-going problems in the neighborhoods,” he said.

They use crime stats to help find problem areas and address ways to fix the issue. Sometimes that's as simple as letting someone know they left their car unlocked or other ways to protect their property.

And when it comes to safety, Stephens said you can do your part to help.

"Please, please report any suspicious activity you see."

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