AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo Police Chief Martin Birkenfeld said after the end of the school year, liaison officers who don’t stay for summer school are put on patrol, but that will soon change.
Chief Birkenfeld said the community will soon see 12 school liaison officers become part of and supplement the eight Neighborhood Police Offices the department has throughout the community. They will do this until school starts again.
Chief Birkenfeld said having these officers out in the communities they already serve in the schools helps build trust.
“The school kids they see the officer in the school and they know their role there, but when they get out in the summer, they say ‘hey that officer is still out in my community.’ I think it helps. It builds that trust and for us building trust with our community is at the top of our list of priorities,” said Chief Birkenfeld.
He added they don’t want to respond to problems, they want to prevent them and that is the goal of the Neighborhood Police Offices.
“Our school liaison officers are tasked with getting into these neighborhoods this summer, talking to kids, dealing with quality of life issues in those challenged neighborhoods, and try to prevent some crime from happening there,” said Chief Birkenfeld.
Chief Birkenfeld said they would like to extend the number of Neighborhood Police Offices they have, but right now they are focusing on those eight.
Chief Birkenfeld said the feedback they get from where the Neighborhood Police Offices are good.
“I think people really like being able to rely on the same officer to be able to help answer some of their questions, belay some of their fears about crime in the neighborhood and help solve some of those crime problems that we see take a toll on the quality of life in a neighborhood,” added Chief Birkenfeld.
He said he believes people enjoy having an officer around to ease some of the fear that can take a toll on a community.
Chief Birkenfeld said the school liaison officers volunteer for their jobs and compete for those jobs.