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Holyoke expands community policing effort with mobile office

Date: 9/26/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — Police Chief James Neiswanger introduced the latest effort in fighting crime in the city: a mobile office for use by community policing units.

Neiswanger and Mayor Alex Morse met with the press last week to explain the new addition's role.

"No matter where you live, you can see a [community] policing effort," Morse said.

The converted truck — in the past it had been used as a SWAT vehicle — will allow police to set up a mobile sub-station in neighborhoods, Neiswanger said.

The chief explained the mobile office follows the establishment last November of a community policing sub-station at the corner of Sergeant and Maple streets, which has proven effective in forming partnerships between the police, residents and building owners.

The mobile office will be sent "to where it's needed most," Neiswanger said.

The community police officers assigned to the mobile unit will then interact with the beat cops in the area and with the residents.

He said the community policing officers would distribute fliers in a neighborhood soliciting information and concerns from the public to form partnerships to solve problems.

Neiswanger credited Capt. David Pratt and Lt. Manny Febo with the idea of the mobile office and said he believes no other community in the region has such a vehicle.

The department will use the mobile unit year-round, although Neiswanger noted that crime rates drop in the winter.

Morse said the community policing truck is one of the innovations the department in implementing and said a canine unit will be added as well.

"I'm excited about the direction the Police Department is headed," Morse said.