Police seeking inputGoshen Township Chief wants residents to speak their minds
By KEVIN HOWELL, Staff Writer
GOSHEN TOWNSHIP- Police Chief Jim Willock wants residents to speak their minds about the police department, implementing subject surveys and follow-up reports to gauge the public's perception of the Goshen Police District.
Willock recently initiated a change to the department's policy and procedures to include follow-up reports that both inform victims of case progressions and provide an outlet for them to share their opinion on how the officer handled the case.
"The overall strategy is to get input on what we do from the people we serve," Willock said, stating that approximately 10,000 residents live in the department's jurisdiction. "We work for [the residents], so we are responsible for them. If someone has an issue, they need to let us know about it."
According to Willock, supervisors in the department will now be conducting three types of follow-up reports and surveys- patrol, detective and court officer.
Residents, business owners or workers in the police district can expect a call within seven days of an incident to answer any questions the subject may have that was not clearly answered on the scene and to determine the subject's satisfaction with how the officer handled the incident.
Some of the questions include: Was the officer professional?; Did the officer take the appropriate time to answer questions?; Are you satisfied with the our handling of the call?; and What could we do better?
"There have been some issues with people complaining in the community that we don't follow up," Willock said. "We're trying to guarantee that an experienced person is available to thoroughly answer all questions. But it's also a barometer of how people think we are doing our job."
Similar to the patrol follow-up, the detective one concerns any case that requires an investigation, such as a theft, criminal damage or domestic violence, Willock said.
A victim can expect a call within seven days of the incident, as well, but can also expect an update every 30 days until the case is closed, he added, including one to report the case closed. Victims will also be informed of any significant development in a case such as charges filed, an arrest made or the prosecutor declines to prosecute.
"We want people to know that we are working on their case, that it does matter to us," Willock said.
The department has a designated court officer to represent the department in each court case who, following each court appearance, will contact the victim either in person at the courtroom or via telephone to discuss the case, providing all information regarding items such as charges, convictions, plea agreements, future court appearances or court contact.
In addition to the follow-up reports, the department is also conducting surveys of businesses within the police district, determining how well it is patrolling the area and establishing a system for rapid response, according to Willock.
By collecting basic information on the businesses, such as staff after hours or emergency contacts, the department will know when something is not right while patrolling, he said, and can record any checks made of the business.
"Hopefully this gives businesses confidence that we are checking the place out," Willock said. "Some of the businesses we have heard back from have changed management, and some of them we didn't even know existed, so it's good to be aware of them. This is all about providing the best service possible."
But the line of communication is not limited to follow-up surveys and reports,
"All we want is feedback, negative or positive, so we can better serve our residents," Willock said. "Sometimes people are afraid to offer criticism, they're apprehensive of us when they don't need to be."
To provide feedback, Willock can be contacted at email@example.com, at the office at 330-332-1235 or on his cell phone at 330-651-0550.
Kevin Howell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org