EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (FOX 9) - The Eden Prairie Police Department has announced it will implement a new Neighborhood Police Officers (NPO) program in its communities in an effort to further foster communication, and hopefully curb crime.
The NPO program will "help officers and residents get to know each other, and to make it easier to work together and solve neighborhood issues," according to an announcement from the police department.
"We don't like it when the only interaction is you getting stopped because you're going a little too fast," said Sgt. Eric LeBlanc, who says the city is divided into zones and an NPO is assigned to each one. "We are really wanting to get back into having that positive interaction with our community."
Eden Prairie police believe the targeted officers will serve as primary contacts for community groups, neighborhood associations, businesses and residents within their assigned neighborhood to report ongoing issues and concerns. The program is intended to complement emergency response, filing a police report, or other routine calls for service, not supplement them.
"Everything we have done as a police department is predicated on relationships and I think over time, it's kind of waned, unfortunately. You can throw in whatever examples you want of law enforcement's action or inaction and just COVID-19 where we are all separated from everybody," said LeBlanc.
In April, the police department announced the implementation of 13 portable Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) in areas of the city where vehicle theft was high. The devices have cameras inside that can take pictures of license plates in real-time and scan them through the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's list of stolen vehicles. If it is a stolen vehicle, the ALPR alerts officers of the match,
The new tool has helped find eight stolen vehicles since December 2021, the department said at the time of the announcement.