Bridging the gap with a community engagement officer

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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A community once riddled with crime is experiencing a turnaround. North County Police Cooperative Officer Corey Hawkins-Byrd is focused on bridging the gap between police and the public.

Patrolling seven cities, enforcing laws, and spending time getting to know residents.

“Our police department started in 2015, which was a year after Mike Brown, and so we felt like there has been a big mistrust between police and citizens,” said Officer Corey Hawkins-Byrd.

Hawkins-Byrd’s role with the North County Police Cooperative is unique. He is a community engagement officer.

“Just being out and having a personal relationship and treating everyone like a human makes a big difference,” said Officer Corey Hawkins-Byrd.

If you’re out in North County, you will notice law enforcement patrolling every block. Officer Hawkins-Byrd is focused on bridging the gap between police and the public, especially young kids.

“As far as the kids growing up, they won’t have that mindset that all police are bad. That way they can grow up and be an officer,” Hawkins-Byrd said.

Building trust between officers and the communities they serve does not happen without effort.

“I think it’s one of the biggest roles, without the communities trust, it’s hard to do the job,” Hawkins-Byrd said.

Major Ron Martin said Officer Corey Hawkins-Byrd involvement is already making a difference.

He released a statement, saying: “We firmly believe our community engagement efforts have led to success with a drop in violent crimes and a rise in the solvability of those violent crimes. This year alone, 85 percent of our homicides have been solved because people are more willing to come forward and assist us. In essence, bridging the gap between the public and the police is necessary and being done so, in a very transparent fashion.”

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