Communication with the public continues to be a top goal for the Rock Island Police Department, and officers hope that monthly community meetings can help open up even more channels of dialogue.
Officers and community members say these meetings are a long time coming, and they admit that communication like this may be more important now than ever before.
The community meetings will likely be held on a monthly basis, hoping to bridge any gap in information there may be between officers that are on patrol, and the people they're protecting while on the job. Even though this is the first time meetings like this will be happening, Rock Island Police Chief Jeff VenHuizen says that communication has been good, but he wants it to be even better. VenHuizen says he's spoken with a number of people who have wanted to see something like this happen for awhile, and he agrees that sharing information can go a long way to help keep their neighborhoods safer.
"There are certain things that we see during an eight hour shift, and there are certain things citizens see that live in the neighborhood. We may not always know that. That's why its important to always have open discussion and keep each other informed as best we can," Chief VenHuizen said.
Community outreach continues to be one of the biggest goals of the department, which VenHuizen says will only be helped by these monthly meetings.
"You have to look at it from the aspect of if we enter into a crisis situation and that's the first time we're trying to have dialogue, that's not going to work. We have to have those lines of communication open before anything happens," Chief VenHuizen said.
If everything goes well in the first meeting and over the next few months, there may be more events planned to keep people informed about what's happening in their neighborhoods.
The first public meeting with the Rock Island Police Department will be held Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 starting at 6:00 p.m. in the Community Room of the new department building. They will be held every third Wednesday of each month, lasting about an hour.