When Chief Rachael Lee Hart made history in 2017 as the first female Chief of Police in Oglethorpe, Ga., she had a vision. Chief Hart was studying how community policing was transforming communities, but she couldn’t find any resources that could help her city.
“All of the information that was published on community policing focused on implementing activities in mid-size or large cities. I have town of 1,800 residents with five full time officers,” Hart said.
Chief Hart found the support she needed by attending the first Macon County National Night Out hosted by the Marshallville Police Department in 2018. The Dr. Annise Mabry Foundation was the nonprofit partner who assisted the police department with registration at the national level.
“It was Chief Patricia Barber’s idea to host a National Night Out. Chief Barber was a part-time officer so I took on the task of making the calls to other agencies for participation support. I had a notebook with phone numbers and I called every agency within a 30-minute drive to come out and support us. When the Oglethorpe Police Department and the Macon County Sheriff’s Department said they would attend, you would have thought I won the lottery,” Dr. Mabry reflected.
After the National Night Out event, Dr. Mabry and Chief Hart stayed in contact with each other, and when Dr. Mabry had an opportunity to join the Georgia State of Hope Ecosystem, she reached out to Chief Hart.
The State of Hope is a movement throughout Georgia to create communities where children are safe, thriving and full of hope. The mission is to cultivate family-centered support systems by connecting, equipping and nurturing diverse community collaborators. A State of Hope Ecosystem had never been implemented inside of a police department, but these two women are up for the challenge.
“I think the biggest game changer for me was that Chief Hart had already done the leg work and she wanted to transform the policing strategy of her department. We looked at several different community policing models, and the one that fit was Prevention Focused Community Policing. Once we had the model, the rest was easy” said Mabry.
Chief Hart echoes those sentiments. “Dr. Mabry took my ideas and helped me to find a policing model that fit those ideas, and she used her foundation to bring resources into not only our department but also our city. These programs implement community policing activities such as Christmas with a Cop, Backpack with a Cop and the Chief’s Diploma Program.”
The Dr. Annise Mabry Foundation moved into the police department in February 2019 and the Southwest Georgia Rural Community Policing Resource Center opened in October 2019.
“The greatest need for rural law enforcement agencies is access to federal resources. Every single webinar that I sat in for nine months kept telling me how the federal government was committed to providing grant resources to rural law enforcement agencies. The challenge was most rural law enforcement agencies lacked the staff to sit through trainings or had funding to hire an experienced grant writer who could just focus on the needs of their police department. That is the goal of the Southwest GA Rural Community Policing Resource Center. Last year, we worked with six rural law enforcement agencies to provide 4,600 toys to families, 1,500 backpacks, and 4,000 pieces of candy. The Macon County Chiefs’ Diploma Program awarded 22 high school diplomas,” said Dr. Mabry.
Corporate grants from Flint Energies, International Paper, State Farm as well as Atlanta based nonprofit partner For The Kid in All of Us and Toys For Tots provided resources to the Dr. Annise Mabry Foundation for the Cops in Communities activities.
This year the Oglethorpe Police Department applied for a US Department of Justice COPS Microgrant to expand the services provided at the Southwest GA Rural Community Policing Resource Center (RCPRC).
Some upcoming events that will be hosted at the SW GA RCPRC include a shoot/don’t shoot virtual training simulator that is open to both law enforcement agencies and the community on Wednesday, March 4 at 10am and 2pm. There will also be a two-day grant writing workshop designed for rural law enforcement agencies on September 17-18.
“Policing has changed. We cannot police the same way that we use to. We need officers who want to connect with, not just patrol, the community. Officers who want to connect are only a part of the whole. We need nonprofit partners like the Dr. Annise Mabry Foundation who are committed to working with law enforcement agencies to assist with the transition,” said Chief Hart.
Company Name: Oglethorpe Police Department
Contact Person: Chief Rachael Lee Hart
Email: Send Email
Phone: (478) 472-7538
Address:500 Sumter Street
Country: United States