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Copperas Cove police officer holds meet and greet

Cove Leader-Press 

Officer Kayla Long may have been with the Copperas Cove Police Department less than two years, but she took the lead on Thursday evening by holding department’s first meet and greet for Sector N8 at the department’s community room. 
The department put the word out via social media and online to let residents know about the informal gathering. Only a handful, five, attended the event, with the lower-than-expected attendance having a possible link to the start of a long holiday weekend. 
It is just one of the ways the department is trying to reach out into the community to build partnerships and in doing so, prevent crime. 
The department has divided the city into geographic districts—north, south, and central—which have been divided into a total of 22 sectors.
Officer Long is assigned to Sector N8, or North 8, on the north side of Copperas Cove, which is to the north of the railroad tracks and from North Main Street east.
She said she specifically chose that area to be her sector.
“I live in North 8, so I thought it would be best to work a sector that I live in, to make it a little more personal,” she told those assembled. “Now that we have this model going on, with everything on the north side, I have the opportunity to constantly be in this area. I can be driving by and say, ‘Hey, there’s somebody outside. Let me stop and talk to them.’”
Notable facilities in North 8 include Halstead Elementary, the Hills of Cove Golf Course, the Copperas Cove Cemetery, and the city’s northeast water treatment plant.
Long explained the geographic policing helps build relationships with the community. 
“Traditional policing models talk about how we’re reactive. We go from call to call and we don’t get the opportunity to be proactive, to meet with people and ask them, ‘What are your concerns within your community?’”
Long and the residents briefly discussed their concerns about the city cemetery, among other things. Long said she has ideas for a cleanup at the cemetery, and that more people have been visiting the cemetery with the game Pokémon Go. 
“Kids are going and hanging out and leaving trash, and I want to get that changed…I want to be able to fix it up so when people visit, they go, ‘This is nice.’ I want this to be a place where people can visit and relax and remember.”
Long pointed out that will still be policing other areas of the city. 
“To erase any confusion, just because North 8 is my sector, doesn’t mean I don’t take calls from all over the city. But when they divide us up by sectors, I work the entire north side two to three days a week, and one day per week I will work central or south side.”
She also discussed Cove Watch and the R U OK? program for adults age 60 and up who live alone, and gave residents her card that has her office number and email in case they need to contact her about any issues that might arise in their neighborhoods. She said that depending on her call volume, she will either come by or return the call, or set up a time to meet.
With R U OK?, Long said the Law Enforcement Explorer cadets will be helping make weekly phone calls to those seniors participating in the program. 
With Cove Watch, it has already helped identify suspects who were damaging a car on Morning Dove.
“At the corner of Bluebird, a lady has cameras on the outside of her house, and I was able to get a still image of the suspects who damaged the car from her camera system. I helped sign her up, because now we know she has camera, so we can ask.” 
Those with security cameras can sign up via Cove Watch to be surveillance partners for the department.
In addition to Cove Watch, Long recommended residents sign up for Next Door, similar to Facebook but limited to Copperas Cove neighborhoods only. She gave the example that someone was complaining about speeding on Texas Street, and said the department could directly address the issue. 
Resident Mary Hanson attested to the value of Next Door. 
“It does work,” Hanson said. “We had someone going through with mufflers at 2:00 in the morning that were just keeping everybody up. I put something on Next Door, and it stopped.” 
Long informed the sector residents that the number-one crime call in that area was for burglary of a vehicle. 
She said it is easy to prevent that “crime of opportunity.” Someone is walking by, checks car doors, and if a door is open, they will take whatever they can of value, such as cash or change, tools, phones, chargers. She suggested locking the cars and rolling all windows up, and installing motion lights on the house. Summertime tends to have a rise in car burglaries, due to juveniles out of school and bored. The holidays are also another time for spikes in car burglaries, with young adults or other individuals without much income, who will break into vehicles, then steal and pawn items to get money for presents. 
Long also shared about an initiative she’s working on that stems from meeting a woman while working third shift. 
“I saw a woman waiting alone in the dark at a HOP stop at 3 a.m. I asked if she was okay, and she said she was fine, but she has to be at the bus top by 3:00 so she can be to work at 6 a.m.”
Along with Lt. Gabriel Cardona, Long said she is working with the HOP to install solar powered lights provided at a cost savings by a local business installed at all of the bus stop kiosks. Her aim is to get all 17 bus stops in the city illuminated, so people aren’t sitting in the dark at night, making them a prime target. 
Other aims on her list are expanding the Neighborhood Watch program in her sector, holding a “neighborhood revival” in the summertime to help a street to fix it up, along with having summertime activities for children in the neighborhood. 
The concept of geographic policing and dividing the city into different sectors was presented to the Copperas Cove city council back in August 2017 by Chief of Police Eddie Wilson, when he said the department wanted to get away from doing things from a reactive standpoint in the community.
Next up for the department as a whole is “Coffee With A Cop,” scheduled for Tuesday, April 17 from 9-11 a.m. at Starbucks, located at 2524 E. Bus. 190.

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
Phone:(254) 547-4207