Police ‘foot patrols’ make a comeback in South Jersey town
A cop "walking the beat" on foot patrol is an older law enforcement tactic that is being revived in a South Jersey town.
In Woodbury, Gloucester County, Police Chief Thomas Ryan says his department began the foot patrols in October.
"We will continue doing these foot patrols in different neighborhoods," Ryan said.
Ryan says he decided to send out foot patrols after talking to a number of community members, including business owners and residents, who wanted to see the kind of police community interaction that he says doesn't happen when officers spend most of their days in patrol cars.
"I just feel this is a better connect with the public," Ryan said.
The police chief said he recently met with an older businessman from the community who - along with his family - have been in Woodbury for many years. According to Ryan, the man told him, "I might be old fashioned, but I kind of miss the old officer on foot beat. I know if he is on my street he is walking, I can approach him and ask him questions and he is not going to fly by as he would if he is on a bike or in a car. It is just a better connect with the public."
Ryan, who became Woodbury's police chief last August, agreed with the businessman.
"As chief you go to a lot of different meetings: the local Rotary, Mainstreet Woodbury one of several groups revitalizing the downtown. The council, mayor, and I kept hearing the same thing. They love to see officers in cars and around and even on bike patrols, but they kind of miss the old time foot beat."
Ryan said Woodbury is a unique town, just over two square miles. He says they have always had officers walking downtown.
"We are the county seat, so we have the courts down there and just to help people out if they need to know where to go, and plus parking and things like that. But beyond that, in the neighborhoods, we just kind of wanted to make a better connection with the neighborhoods," Ryan said.
The chief said a lot of times, "people do not call the police because they think they are going to bug us and there are actually a lot of quality of life issues that go on in the neighborhoods that we want to hear about."
Ryan says the trial foot patrols will continue until the spring.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.