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Officers to patrol downtown on foot in program

By Staff | Nov 18, 2009

The Cape Coral Police Department and the CRA are hoping that an experimental program will not only keep downtown business owners happy, but that it will make residents feel safe and secure while visiting the district.
CRA board members unanimously approved at Tuesday’s meeting a police foot patrol to walk the downtown streets Friday and Saturday nights.
The brainchild of Officer Jerry Moll, a CCPD community liaison, the two-person patrol will work five-hour shifts, two nights per week for four weeks starting Dec. 4.
The team’s goal is not only to engage establishment owners, managers and their patrons, but also to foster a more positive relationship between locals and the CCPD.
Tensions have been high as of late between business owners and the police, especially when it comes to DUI checkpoints in the CRA district.
“Their goal is public safety, but we’re also trying to embrace interacting with the public on a personal level,” Moll said.
He added that the foot patrols are the next step of building the relationship, which started with meetings between the different interests and continued Monday with an alcohol consumption awareness event.
Moll asked the CRA board to pledge some financial assistance for the program’s test run. He asked for $3,240, which broke down to $40.50 per hour for the officers.
The board unanimously approved the expenditure at a total of $5,200,
in the officers were needed for extra events like the Street Market on Saturday mornings.
“We’re trying to heal some wounds here and build a consensus between the police and the business community,” said Board Member Rich Greer.
Moll said the officers on foot patrol duty will be present of their own accord. They will receive a short training session, then go through a meet and greet with business owners.
“It will be the officers that wish to be on the detail, so people won’t be assigned,” he said. “This will be on the officer’s own time, so this will be an investment for them.”
CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen was especially pleased by the notion, saying that it will help to develop a comfort level by breaking down preconceived barriers.
“It’s not just officers, it’s the right officers,” he said. “When you get them out of their cars and onto the street, they become human beings. A whole different relationship exists.”