The Beaufort Police Department (BPD) has long been a supporter of the Neighborhood Outreach Connection (NOC) in the community.
The relationship first started when the police and fire departments were invited to the inaugural Back-to-School event at Parkview in the summer of 2016. Prior to that, the interaction between the NOC and the BPD was mostly conversational, keeping abreast of the everyday situations at the Parkview Apartment housing complex and how they potentially impacted on the children and families resident there. Parkview — with its location next to the county detention facility, and socioeconomic status as affordable housing — had a reputation for being a tough neighborhood. Although the reputation has improved recently, the police maintain a strong presence in the neighborhood.
It was recognized by both the NOC and BPD that a partnership could potentially benefit the children of Parkview, and subsequently the Marsh Pointe community.
Beaufort NOC Program Manager determined that a good way to collaborate on this initiative would be to invite the police and fire departments to a family social event, that being the end-of-summer Back-to-School party. Both departments embraced the invitation and attended with numbers of personnel and equipment. The understanding being fostered is that the police and firemen were truly interested in the well being of the residents in the community and not just present when there is an incident requiring their attention. This first party signified the start of several in which the BPD was present at an NOC-sponsored event.
One BPD officer, Michael Phelan, took a particular interest in the NOC children and he took the lead role in developing a partnership program of outreach to the NOC communities. Over the past year, a positive relationship has been established in which police officers have been, and will continue, making regularly scheduled visits to the NOC’s Learning Centers. The officers foster a caring and attentive demeanor when they interact with the children and demonstrate that they care about their health and safety. The officers focus on positive decision-making and pride in the children’s neighborhoods. Together, the groups have sponsored neighborhood clean-up days where the kids are rewarded for collecting and disposing of litter from common areas.
Officer Phelan has also been of great assistance utilizing his contacts in the community — he recently was able to secure the donation of bounce castles at the Marsh Pointe Learning Center’s annual Christmas party, and the owner of the company offered to have the bounce castles return to Parkview for another event later this year. “Officer Mike” also visits whenever there is a recognition event for the students.
A strong working relationship between the NOC and the local law enforcement team has resulted in positive benefits for both organizations. For the NOC, it provides the students with a sense of discipline and focus on their neighborhood environment and that the police truly care about their wellbeing of them and their families.
For the police department, it provides an influential grassroots presence into local neighborhoods based on care and respect. This relationship has potential to be replicated throughout the NOC Learning Center communities, hopefully providing similarly positive results.