Community Involvement Vital To Police

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Chief Don Engler said the police department's open public Citizen Awareness meetings have provided police with valuable information.

"Information and tips that come from the community are absolutely vital in helping us to solve crimes and address important community issues," Engler said.

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Payson Police Chief Don Engler said information gathered at Citizen Awareness meetings has aided the department in making arrests.

Engler has thus far hosted two meetings in the council chambers at Town Hall in Payson. Another meeting is scheduled for Sept. 19.

He believes the meetings have been a success by creating an opportunity for the community and the police department to become more aware of the concerns and issues on both sides of the coin.

One of the issues brought up at the first meeting was from Payson resident Dave Engleman concerning speeding and reckless driving.

"You might as well stay off Manzanita Drive, it's the Indianapolis Speedway on that road," Engleman said.

Engler told Engleman at the meeting that he would look into the problem.

"We are trying to address the things that are brought up," Engler said.

"We had the trailer (radar speed trailer) up there, ironically, the day that he (Engleman) was at the meeting."

"He brought me photographs of the trailer and all with the speeds on it, and I understand what he was presenting to me and all," he said. "And he felt like that (the trailer) didn't work."

"So, we've had our traffic officer up in the area on several different occasions working that area," Engler added.

Engler said the department is also going to be trying a "dummy" car program, where an unmanned squad car will be parked in random locations on different dates to deter speeders.

"We're trying to be responsive to these (complaints) and take the information and trying to make improvement," he said.

Engler said that in some cases, such as complaints of suspected illegal drug activity, it is not possible to make instant arrests.

"The average citizen doesn't realize that in some of these narcotics investigations, there's actually hundreds of hours of work that culminate in a search warrant," he said.

"And then even at that time, the work isn't over when you serve the search warrant."

He said there are countless additional hours that go into bookings, arraignments, hearings, trials and other legal action.

Engler said that because of the hours that go into police work and the limited manpower of the police in a small town like Payson, community involvement is even more essential.

"Our officers take a higher per capita call than many of the larger agencies," he said.

In 2006, Payson police officers answered an average of 778 calls for service each for the entire year.

The heavy loads expected of his officers is exactly why community involvement is so essential to having a safe community to live in, he said.

The meetings have already provided information that the department has been able to utilize to stop some illegal activities.

"We have made some arrests in the case of the resident at the first meeting (Doug Talbot) who complained about his house being egged," Engler said.

"And tips from the public were invaluable in making them."

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