CITY OF BOCA
Boca Raton Police Services Department
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Boca Raton Police Services Department trains police staff annually in cultural diversity in the work place and in the community. Two sworn police officers offer this instruction within the agency and to other police agencies.
The Boca Raton Police Services Departmentís (BRPSD) community policing unit consists of thirteen officers who collectively address issues concerning the promotion of tolerance and respect for diversity in the community. Specifically, BRPSD has three separate neighborhoods, Boca Island East, Dixie Manor, and New Pines, where community policing sub-stations have been established to focus on police and community service. Although each neighborhood is independent of the other, all three have a diverse mix of cultures including African-American, Anglo-American, Haitian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Asian, and many other cultures from the Caribbean and South America. Each neighborhood offers educational and recreational activity chaperoned by police officers and volunteers. By creating a comfortable atmosphere for diverse cultures to interact, officers are able to foster the development of education and tolerance of diverse cultures. Activities in the neighborhoods include Adult Continued Education classes, computer classes, and English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) classes.
2. When was the program created and why?
BRPSD began its community policing program in Dixie Manor in 1987. Dixie Manor is a low-income public housing development whose traditional residents are African-American. However, many new residents are Haitian and Mexican. Initially, due to an increase in calls for service, officers were assigned to Dixie Manor in an effort to address the causes for the increase and to create long term solutions to decrease calls for service. Using both traditional and non-traditional law enforcement practices, officers were able to decrease calls for service, and build trust and rapport with residents. Expanding on the success of efforts put forth in Dixie Manor, BRPSD elected to establish two additional programs in other areas of the city. Programs in New Pines and Boca Island East began in 1991 and 1995 respectively.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
In addition to law enforcement responsibility, activity at each of the neighborhoods consists of after school tutorials, mentoring, local Police Athletic League sponsored sports competitions (i.e. basketball, football, and wrestling tournaments), and field trips to area sporting and cultural events.
Effectiveness is measured by recording and analyzing the following: changes in the number of calls for service, evaluation of the academic performance and attendance of the children participating in the after school tutorials, participation in sporting competitions, and attendance of field trips. In addition, officers are able to gauge how well people of different ethnicity and culture interact together and design activity that is attractive to everyone.
4. How is the program financed?
The Community Policing Unit consists of police officers financed through the city of Boca Raton Police Services Departments budget. BRPSD has received funding for police officers through the COPS Universal Hiring Federal Grant Program offered by the COPS Office of the U.S. Department of Justice. To date BRPSD has received funding to hire eleven officers through this grant program. In addition, private non-profit foundations with common interests have donated money and services.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The community is an intricate part of the programís operation and success. Each neighborhood relies on the input and participation of the community. Officers rely on input from community residents on issues that concern their childrenís educational and recreational activity, criminal activity and property value. The community has responded very well. This is to say that once residents realized that the BRPSD would respond to their concerns, they became more involved in many of the programs by offering to volunteer and initiate new programs including Citizen Crime Watch and Citizen Observer Patrol.
6. What are the major lessons learned that would be helpful for others trying to implement a similar program?
An essential element for any municipality to keep in mind when considering any program involving multi-cultural citizens is the education of the program director. Familiarity with the culture will show interest, offer credibility, and demand respect. It is imperative that officers attempting to initiate programs such as this have human diversity/sensitivity training, and that they "buy" into it. This will allow the constituency to establish a rapport with the officer. Programs such as this take time and patience to develop. Realistic goals should be set with frequent evaluation and modification.
It is important to inform the entire community of the cityís interest in a particular neighborhood. Define in detail what you hope to accomplish, and how it may affect them. This will give the entire community, including the business community, an opportunity to become involved.
7. What specific advice do you have for mayors interested in replicating a program such as yours?
Once the mayor agrees to adopt the program they must support it by allowing the police agency the time and funding it may need to develop it. Mayors should consider making other departments within the city available to work with the police department, for example Parks and Recreation, Housing Authority, Sanitation and Code Enforcement. These departments may be used to complement the police department in dealing with neighborhood cleanup, enforcement of city codes, and sponsoring athletic activity.
For more information, please contact:
Captain Kenneth W. Pachnek
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352