Monday, 15 July 2019 14:51

Hamlet Police Department sweeps neighborhoods, passing out info

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Hamlet Police Chief Tommy McMasters stops at a home Saturday to hand out contact information and ask if there have been any issues in the area during the department's first phase of "Neighborhood Sweep." See video of the effort on the RO's Facebook page. Hamlet Police Chief Tommy McMasters stops at a home Saturday to hand out contact information and ask if there have been any issues in the area during the department's first phase of "Neighborhood Sweep." See video of the effort on the RO's Facebook page. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Several residents got a knock on their doors from police Saturday.

But the officers weren’t there to serve warrants.


They were there as part of a community policing effort from the Hamlet Police Department called “Neighborhood Sweep.”

They did however leave something with the residents: small bags containing contact information as they walked through the East Hamlet, Pinecroft and Briarwood neighborhoods.

Chief Tommy McMasters said the goal was to rebuild the bridge between police and residents.

Most of the 300 bags were packed by Cpl. J. Barnes.

Three teams went out in the late morning and, following a lunch prepared by the Hamlet Fire Department, two teams started at the ends of Austin Street and met in the middle before stopping for the day.

Capt. Randy Dover and his crew went to the south end, while McMasters, Fire Chief Calvin White and Patrolman Kevin Viana started at the intersection with McDonald Avenue.

Those who were home were receptive to the officers. For those who weren’t home, a bag was left hanging on the door.

The residents visited Saturday didn’t report many problems, although one requested the installation of a stop light by the Shell Station, McMasters said.

“Of course, different sections have different things,” he added.

One woman thanked Viana for “having patience” with a family member who has been in trouble with the law, but is trying to turn his life around.

Dover said some residents he spoke with were concerned about speeding through neighborhoods, people walking around late at night and recent break-ins.

White pointed out he was a little surprised that some did not yet know that McMasters was chief, although he’s been on the job since April 1.

The department was joined by members of the Hamlet Fire Department, City Manager Jonathan Blanton, council members Maurice Stuart and Joe Robinson, local clergy and deputies from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

McMasters said he “couldn’t have done it without them.”

Saturday marked the first phase of the outreach effort, with the next phase slated for October.

“Neighborhood Sweep” is just one of several community policing activities the department has planned.

Once school starts back, McMasters said officers will fill bags with pencils and other school supplies to hand out to students.

The department is also hosting a Community Watch informative meeting in the City Council chambers at 6 p.m. on July 30; starting “Adopt a Block,” where officers are assigned a certain area to patrol and interact with residents, in August ; and launching a 10-month mentoring program for high schoolers in September.

There is another upcoming program called “Cops and Clergy” where the department will be working with local ministers.

“They can reach people that we can’t reach,” McMasters said. “Their parishioners have a lot of faith and trust in them. If we can get to them … they’ll validate us … so I think that’s going to be huge for us.”

McMasters hopes it will lead to information that can help solve crimes and get more community partners.

Trust, the chief said, is “paramount.”

“We’re such a small department,” he said. “We’ve got to have additional eyes, additional ears out there that are going to help us, support us in our endeavors.”

 

Last modified on Monday, 15 July 2019 14:58