RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raleigh police are currently short over 100 officers, however, they are not letting that come between them and building relationships with the community.

Wednesday morning the department conducted its second community engagement project, an initiative they call “Cops on the Block,” as a way to build relationships with people in the community.

Although new to some, this is something the department has done years ago as a way to bring back community policing.

The group knocked on doors and actually talked with residents to hear their real problems and what more they want from the department.

This whole idea was created by Major Rico Boyce, who is currently the agency’s Field Operations Division Commander. He was the District Commander (Captain) for the Southeast District a few years ago.

He and Southeast District Commander (Captain) Derek Ford were both on the scene spearheading the event.

The first time the group conducted the event was on May 25.

“I wanted to sorta flip that a little bit and just come when things are good. Typically people call the police when things are not good. I said let’s get on the forefront of that and get out and meet our neighbors and let them know what’s going on in their community,” Major Boyce said.

Meghan Hemingway has lived in the area for the past two years and said she loves the efforts RPD is putting on.

“I think it’s a great effort on the city’s part to have a presences and make sure that the people in this neighborhood feel safe and protected. And that the city is aware of some of the struggles we have in this community,” she shared.

Commander Ford, said they want to make officer more visible and not just present in the event of a crime.

Chief Estella Patterson wasn’t present for the event, but sent out a statement regarding the initiative:

“This initiative brings police officers directly to the community to engage in dialogue and collaborative problem-solving. These conversations are the first step in bringing about transformative change in our neighborhoods that are disproportionately impacted by crime and quality of life violations. It is my intention that our residents and our officers get to know each other to build trust and transparency.” 

Major Boyce says they choose areas based on if they are at risk for high crime based on their data. In the future, he says they plan to take this initiative all throughout the city.