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Going 'Beyond the Badge' and into the Community

May 15, 2019 10:38 PM

(ABC 6 news) -- Proper training is an important part of starting any job, but for police officers the stakes are higher.

That’s where the Rochester Police Department’s new program, ‘Beyond the Badge’ comes in, preparing officers before they even jump in their squad cars.

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“Police departments can’t do it by themselves. We need to work with everybody,” said Andrew Thoma, training officer for the Rochester Police Department.

“There’s a lot of different businesses and organizations within the city of Rochester that do good things to improve the lives of others, and we’re just trying to get a jump start with those officers so they’re not being introduced as they go from calls to service calls,” Thoma said.

Which is why the department launched the program, and it’s why three of their new hires spent their Wednesday at The Place visiting the Boys and Girls Club.

“A lot of our kids interact in the community in a variety of ways with friends and relatives who have had interactions with law enforcement and their families sometimes and peers have interacted with law enforcement, so it’s helpful for them to get interactions in ways that are informal, trusting and caring,” said Chad Campbell, CEO of Boys and Girls Club.

Erik Prink is one of the department’s new hires, and although he’s new to Rochester he’s been a police officer for more than a decade.

“We just want to make positive impacts so if we do have a negative impact with the children and the community in the future they might focus on that positive interaction we had prior to showing up to a police related call,” he said.

Prink said having a positive interaction the kids and engaging the community goes hand-in-hand with policing.

“We just want to give the human side of the police force and let the community know that we’re your next door neighbor,” he said.

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