Police launch Operation Safe Sidewalks to enhance officer visibility

On your next walk or bike ride around the city, you may notice more cops out and about.

That’s because the department has launched Operation Safe Sidewalks, a new initiative in community policing that focuses on both community engagement and crime deterrence by means of visibility.

“This summer, you will see an increase in foot and bicycle patrols in village squares, neighborhoods, and parks thanks to funding from a Department of Justice COPS micro-grant,” Acting Chief George McMains said in a statement announcing the program.

With Operation Safe Sidewalks, uniformed Newton police officers choose a route to walk or travel by bicycle throughout the summer, to get residents used to seeing them, maybe even engaging with them.

“Community feedback over the past year suggests that some community members in areas impacted by incidents of hate/bias and violent crime, do not feel safe walking through their neighborhoods, especially in the afternoon, evening, and Saturday daytime hours,” McMains continued. “Foot patrols are historically viewed as one of the best ways to reduce and prevent crime in problem areas.”

The statement noted the Philadelphia Foot Patrol Experiment—an initiative in which 250 police officers were put on foot patrol in Philadelphia during the summer of 2009—which was followed by a 23 percent drop in violent crime in areas of that city the experiment involved.