Centralia Police Schedule Public Safety Meetings


By Natalie Johnson / njohnson@chronline.com

When a home is burglarized, or a vehicle is broken into, the police can only do so much without the community’s help.

“The only way we’re going to solve these vehicle prowls is to have people be our eyes and ears,” said Commander Pat Fitzgerald, of the Centralia Police Department.

The Centralia Police Department has scheduled four community meetings in an attempt to connect with residents of all corners of the city.

Each meeting has been scheduled for a different area of the city, corresponding to four “wards” of the city, Fitzgerald said.

The meetings are scheduled for March 9 at Fort Borst Park’s Kitchen 1, March 23 at Oakview School, April 9 at Centralia’s city council chambers and April 20 at Edison School. All meetings will begin at 6 p.m.

Fitzgerald said the purpose of the meetings is for police to get out into neighborhoods, meet residents and have a two-way discussion. He said the department wants to know what it can do for residents, and what they can do for the department.

“There’s multiple reasons we want to be doing this,” he said.

Fitzgerald said the meetings will also allow the department to assess itself.

“It’s building a relationship. getting a rapport going,” he said. “What I wanted to to is grease the wheels a little.”

At each meeting, officers hope to hear from residents about what specific problems they see in their neighborhoods and build relationships with individual community members. Spending time meeting with neighborhoods helps police be more proactive and better able to solve crimes, Fitzgerald said.

“Being really proactive would mean your burglary rate would go down, your vehicle prowl rate would go down, because you’re in the places that’s happening,” Fitzgerald said.

The department doesn’t expect entire neighborhoods to attend, but officers hope for a turnout of 20 or 30 residents.

“If they’re in contact with their neighbors, (then) the whole thing gets out,” he said.

Fitzgerald said he hopes this becomes a catalyst for the resurgence of neighborhood-watch-type activity that could help police.

The department plans to set up meetings with the community every six months.