Since newly-elected Opelousas Police Chief, Donald Thompson, took office, he’s said his officers were going to turn back to the importance of community policing.
Thompson said repairing relationships with the community is a top priority for him. The department is hosting a public meet and greet next week to open a dialogue with the public. Captain Martin McLendon said this is long overdue.
“We have been disconnected from the community. Citizens are saying they don’t know many of the officers that are working the streets,” said McLendon.
McLendon believes this meet and greet will bridge the gap between community members and law enforcement.
“It also will create new relationships so that the citizens will be able to learn to trust law enforcement and learn to report a crime and to be the eyes and ears for the police department,” said McLendon.
Opelousas Resident, Wayne Jordan, said many in the community view officers as the enemy.
“When we were young we looked up to police officers and now that’s going away from that,” said Jordan.
Jordan said times are different from when he was growing up in the city. He said with an open line of communication, residents may learn men and women wearing the badge are here to serve and protect them.
“During the time when I grew up the police officer’s job was easy because the neighborhoods policed each other. Now, people don’t even care about that anymore and if they see that law enforcement cares and they’re here not just to say they have a badge and I’m showing off, but I’m here for you,” said Jordan.
McLendon said this is a positive move for the department and is hopeful this will decrease crime in the city. The meet and greet will be held at the Opelousas Civic Center on Tuesday, February 24th at 6:00 p.m. For more information, call the Opelousas Police Department at 337-948-2500