BELOIT, Wisc. (WIFR) ----- "It's all about building transparency and relationships."
Beloit Police Department leaders highlighted their successes in lowering the city's crime rate and goals for the future in its annual review. One of the announced initiatives is upping the number of officers on the bike force, as a way to better engage with their fellow residents.
"When you're driving around in a police car, you're basically in a cage, and the ability to communicate and interact with the community is very limited. But on a bicycle, you're much more accessible," said patrol Capt. Thomas Stigler.
Mentorship also took center stage with the Police Explorers program. Partnering with the Boy Scouts of America, these programs are designed to instill a strong work ethic, community awareness and positive self-esteem.
"Sometimes when you think about engaging the community, a lot of people think about our older adults. We sat down and we thought about it and said, 'Well, we need to engage our young youth within our city as well,'" said patrol Lt. Andre Sayles.
As spring starts to roll in, officers say they want to change the conversation and create an open dialogue.
"There's so many people that, the only time they see police officers is when there's something bad happening, and we're trying to change that," said Stigler.