The City of Opelika and the Opelika Police Department are excited to announce the TOGETHER, OPELIKA campaign. The new campaign is being introduced with four primary goals:
- To LOWER CRIME and INCREASE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
- To BUILD COMMUNITY TRUST in our police department in a time when people are exposed to mostly negative interactions with law enforcement on the news and social media
- To ESTABLISH GENUINE RELATIONSHIPS between the Opelika Police Department and the community
- To ENCOURAGE COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR OUR OFFICERS by humanizing the badge – we want to show the community that each officer is someone’s brother/sister, father/mother, son/daughter
“TOGETHER, OPELIKA is geared to build trust and relationships between our community and our officers. It’s a culture shift for our police department. We are looking at ways to better engage with the public and improve upon the great things we are already doing. This will not be a one way street. We need for citizens to participate by inviting us into their neighborhoods, creating dialogue and sharing ideas,” said Captain Shane Healey, Community Relations/Special Services Division of the OPD.
Over the next few months, the OPD will be implementing and creating new ways for the city to push out and receive information. Through new social media accounts, an updated website, a new app, video and additional educational and community outreach, the OPD will:
- deliver clear, consistent messages
- educate the public on the types of training our officers receive
- share the positive impact our officers are making in the community
- establish a platform for feedback and information distribution
Mayor Gary Fuller added, “Our police department is already doing great things, but we can always be better. It’s time for us to start sharing what we are doing with the public and working with citizens to determine better ways to engage with them.”
Opelika Police Department Together Opelika Campaign Update
Last October the Opelika Police Department launched TOGETHER, OPELIKA a campaign geared to build trust and relationships between the citizens of Opelika and the Opelika Police Department.
One of the main goals was to lower crime and increase community engagement. Since the start of the campaign, there has been a decrease in robberies and thefts compared to the previous year and an increase in the community’s involvement with crime prevention and assistance in solving crimes.
“Our department has attended over 75 Community Events and Meetings since October of 2020,” says Opelika Police Chief Shane Healey. “We have been developing new ways to engage and educate citizens and through our increased participation within the community we have started to see trust build for our officers.”
One way OPD has increased community engagement is through their partnership with Critical Insights Consulting, LLC who helped to facilitate Community Engagement and Policing Leadership Workshops with the Police Department employees and members of the community. These workshops are centered around effective communication, behavioral attributes, critical thinking and relationship building. This resource will also be utilized within our hiring process through placement, training and evaluations. The department is optimizing every tool at their disposal in order to have a more accurate accountability for officer training and development. So far OPD officers have conducted over 4,000 hours of training in 2021 and hope to quadruple the training hours required by the state.
Critical Insights Consulting also organized and facilitated several community meetings which helped to develop a model that can be used to better serve our community. Through these meetings three areas were identified that were important to citizens regarding the police:
- Better relationship building
- Stronger trust
The Ambassadors of Change Council, which consists of multiple organizations and community advocates, was formed as a way for everyone to come together to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to help affect change in our community. Captain Tony Amerson is the Police Department liaison who will work with the community liaisons to help implement the model within their neighborhoods.
“The Ambassadors of Change Council has chosen Mrs. Sherry Cook Welch and Mr. Oscar Penn as Ward 2 Community liaisons,” says Captain Tony Amerson. “We are in the process of expanding this model in order to have two liaisons from every ward. Our hope is to have everyone in the Opelika Community truly come together and work as one.”
Additionally, the department is excited to announce the release of their smartphone application. This app will serve as a new way for the police department to connect with Opelika residents and visitors, providing information quickly and efficiently to anyone with a smartphone.
The app offers quick access to items of public interest and is easy to use. In just a few clicks, users can:
- Submit a tip
- Receive push notifications
- Search Opelika’s most wanted
- Connect to the organization’s social media platforms
- Read the latest news and press releases
- View sex offenders in the area
- And More!
The Opelika Police Department mobile app was created by ThePoliceApp.com, a division of OCV, LLC, which specializes in mobile app development for police departments and public safety organizations across the country.
For more information on the TOGETHER, OPELIKA campaign, visit opelikapd.org.
TOGETHER OPELIKA AUGUST CAMPAIGN UPDATE
Ten months after launching their TOGETHER, OPELIKA campaign, the Opelika Police Department is continuing to bridge the gap between the citizens of Opelika and the Police Department.
In May, OPD announced their partnership with Dr. Chenavis Evans and her company Critical Insights Consulting, LLC. Through this partnership, four key pillars of change were identified to form the campaign goals;
- To Build Better Relationships
- To Build Better Trust
- To Become Better Educators
- To Become Better Communicators
Over the past few months, OPD has continued to increase their community involvement through events and workshops. Partnerships with the organizations like the Opelika Housing Authority, Lee County Youth Development Center, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lee County and the Esperanza House, have led to events such as the Together Opelika GAME ON Flag Football event, the Knowledge is Power: Navigating Traffic Stops and the Court Process workshop and several Pops with Cops Pop-Ups. These events not only allow for officers to build relationships with the community but also work towards building trust by educating citizens on policies and procedures. The community is learning what the police do and why, so there can be better understanding and citizens will know what to expect during an interaction with the police.
The department is continuing to find innovative ways to communicate with citizens. Over the summer they increased communication on crime prevention through signage, social media posts and mobile alerts. They continue to be as transparent as possible by releasing consistent information through their website, social media accounts and mobile app.
In September, OPD will launch their new curriculum in the Opelika School System. Sophomores in Opelika High School’s Drivers Ed class will learn about navigating traffic stops and the court process from officers. Seniors will learn about “Policing and Me” during their Government Class, which will focus on the Bill of Rights and how it applies to policing and more importantly, their daily lives.
In 2022 OPD will launch their 20 Under 20 Police Explorer Academy. This 8-week course will give students an inside look at policing in the City of Opelika. In addition to working with law enforcement, students will spend two weeks with the fire department. The program is geared to build relationships and educate students on potential careers as first responders.
OPD is also focused on internal education and training too. To date, OPD has roughly 10,296 hours of training out of the 1,100 required by the state for their 91 sworn officers. Officers are now receiving training to become Certified Instructors, which allows for them to teach courses internally and will continue to grow their in-house training program.
Earlier this year the Ambassadors of Change Council was formed to connect organizations and individuals within the community who want to create a more impactful and sustainable change in Opelika. In order to implement these changes, nine liaisons from the community were selected to work with the Police Department liaison, Captain Tony Amerson.
“In order for us to reach the community we need liaisons representing the entire city,” said Captain Tony Amerson. “I attend monthly community meetings with our nine liaisons to listen, learn and engage with each other to see how we can work together to be more effective in achieving our goals.”
Each ward within the City of Opelika is represented. Ward 1 liaisons are Alexis Meniefield and Valestine Penn. Ward 2 liaisons are Sherry Cook Welch and Oscar Penn. Ward 3 liaisons are Bobbi Yeo and Michael Carter. Ward 4 liaison is Susan Clark and Ward 5 liaisons are Parker Hamilton and Robert Noles. There are also two honorary liaisons, Angela Johnson and Thomas Sherfield. The primary role of these liaisons is to listen to their community, be the voice of their wards and work closely with the Ambassadors of Change.
“We are thrilled to see all of these efforts starting to bring everyone together,” said Chief of Police, Shane Healey. “Organizations, businesses, churches, schools and the city are coming together to do what this campaign was designed to do, work together to make Opelika the best it can be.”
For more information on the TOGETHER, OPELIKA campaign, visit opelikapd.org.