GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) The City of Green Bay takes a new step in improving relationships between the community and police.
"I think everything we do, we have to keep in mind that community relationship portion of our job," says Green Bay Police Lt. Ben Allen.
The Green Bay Police Department is in the middle of specialized training for its new sergeants.
As we've reported, the agency brought the position back for the first time in about two decades.
With that comes a renewed focus on building relationships and better communication with the public.
"It really comes down to being that buffer," describes Sgt. Mike Luberda.
Think of the sergeants as the front lines of communication and information if there's a problem or incident and Green Bay Police respond.
Six officers have either been promoted to sergeant already or are expected to be soon, giving them new responsibilities as leaders among their agency and a voice to the community.
"We focus on professional communication when we're dealing with an incident, but there's times where that's lost in just having general conversation with the community," says Allen.
"We'll be on scene in a neighborhood in Green Bay and something will be going on. (There's) a whole bunch of cops, and neighbors look out their windows and they're kind of like, what's going on? And all of a sudden we're just gone, and then they're sitting there like, what just happened?" says Luberda. "So we're working on that bit and going out and talking to people, letting them know what happened in their neighborhood and answering any concerns they may have."
Much of their three-week training focuses on communication with neighbors and with media.
Police asked us to help them practice how to handle interviews or talk with the general public, ensuring they're being transparent and keeping communication lines open.
"Developing those continued relationships, providing information is going to be key to the success of that position, but also the department as a whole," adds Allen.
"Policing isn't just us. It's everybody in the community, and we can't effectively do our jobs if we don't have people that care and care about their community, and when we can build those relationships, and the people know that we are here to serve the community and be part of this community, it's a lot easier and helps us more effectively do our jobs," says Luberda.
Because this is all new, the department is still figuring out the sergeant's exact job duties, but they also plan to shadow Milwaukee Police as part of their training to get more ideas on ways to best serve the public.