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Residents, officers connect at community stakeholders meeting

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Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman speaks about plans for LED lighting additions during a Stakeholder's Meeting at First Presbyterian Church on June 21, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Friday, June 22, 2018

Building connections between law enforcement and members of the community was at the heart of a Greenville Police Department Community Stakeholders meeting on Thursday night.

Officers, community leaders and everyday folks sat together in the fellowship hall of First Presbyterian Church, chatting over a spaghetti dinner before listening to presentations about police department programs.

Initiatives discussed included Cops and Barbers, Police Explorers, Next Door/Community Watch and National Night Out.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman provided an update on a four-year LED lighting project that the police department and the city are working on to increase safety for motorists and pedestrians. The project will lead to all street lights in Greenville being replaced by bright LED lighting. So far, Holtzman said, more than 1,000 LED street lights have been installed.

City cameras also were discussed. Capt. Chris Ivey, a zone commander with the police department, said that $650,000 has been spent on camera installations. The cameras cost $2,500 to install, he said, however, data storage is an additional expense.

Ivey said that cameras help dispatchers locate where crimes occur and help increase the number of cases being solved.

But infrastructure improvements were not the only focus of the meeting. Other safety measures were highlighted.

Neighborhood watches are changing dramatically due to evolving social media platforms. One such platform is Nextdoor.com.

Kristen Hunter, the department's public information officer, said that Nextdoor.com allows neighbors to conduct free virtual neighborhood watches. The website also allows police officers to connect with residents, target messages to neighborhoods affected by crimes and give and receive relevant feedback.

“It's been a great tool for us. All of our zone commanders have access to Nextdoor,” Hunter said. “You will actually get to know the officer in the area where you live.”

Those attending the meeting also were reminded about additional ways to connect with local police officers, including National Night Out.

National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, is scheduled for Aug. 7 from 6-8 p.m. with events being held all over the city. Last year, more than 15,000 people in Greenville came out to participate.

And for cases where connecting with police officers is a bit more stressful, a video presentation was shown instructing residents what to do if stopped by the police.

If pulled over, drivers are encouraged to:

■ Move to the far right side of the road when safe to do so.

■ Refrain from any sudden movement and be ready to provide documents, such as a driver's license, registration and proof of insurance.

■ Roll windows down, especially if they are tinted, so that officers can account for everyone in the vehicle.

■ Communicate with officers if reaching for anything.

■ Recording is allowed, but police recommend leaving the camera in the console or on the dash.

The next stakeholders meeting is scheduled for Oct. 4 from 5-7 p.m. at Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church.

To learn more, call the Greenville Police Department at 329-4315.

Contact Tyler Stocks at tstocks@reflector.com or 252-329-9566. Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR

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