Rockford Police earn highest honor from state organization

On Tuesday, October 12, the entire Rockford Police Department was recognized by the Michigan Crime Prevention Association (MCPA) as the number one department in Michigan for community policing. It is an honor usually reserved for a department’s community policing officers, and in Rockford, that includes every officer on the force.

“It may seem like an odd request, nominating an entire Police Department for a unit award, but the entire police department consists of 13 officers… every officer practices the skills of a community policing officer every day.” Jones stated in the application letter.

Officer Dave Jehnzen is pictured with a little SWAT member during this year’s costume contest during Children’s Weekend of Harvest Festival. Rockford officers take interaction with the public on a regular and positive basis as part and parcel of the work of a law enforcement officer in Rockford.

The two-page application includes a list of the many community policing programs in which the Rockford Police participate. “I am really proud of the effort this department puts in,” said Jones. The policy of pro-active interaction with the community on many levels was introduced about seven years ago when Jones came on board as Rockford’s chief.

Jones said seven years ago, if you had asked a police officer here about community policing, “You probably would have gotten a blank stare.”

“We went from novice to excellence in a relatively short time and that is really something to be proud of.” Community policing programs in Rockford include D.A.R.E., Neighborhood Watch, Business Watch, Child Identification and Safety, Shop with a Cop, Crime Prevention Site Assessment, and an amazing 20 more programs.

Rockford competed for the recognition of top in the state for community policing with other law enforcement members of the organization, including some very large departments such as the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Detroit Police Department and the Ottawa County Sheriff Department. Jones pointed out that the officers perform all of these extra duties on top of their day-to-day requirements.

“This year was a good one to receive this award because the City celebrates its 75th anniversary as a City this year,” Jones said. He noted that the MCPA annual conference, held this year in Traverse City, includes a week of training.

This year’s topic is child safety and Jones said many of Rockford’s programs focus on preventative measures to keep kids safe. He is teaching the seminar on Rockford’s child safety program which offers free fingerprinting and a safety video. Rockford officers are working 12 hour shifts this week so as many officers as possible were able to attend the awards ceremony and dinner Tuesday night and the classes throughout the week. Rockford City Manager Michael Young also made a trip up to be on hand for the ceremony.

Jones stated in his letter, “Receiving this distinguished award for the officers of Rockford Police Department would be the highlight of our first seventy-five years of service.”

When you see a Rockford officer around town, be sure to contratulation them on this accomplishment.

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