A Community Policing Model Implemented in Vicksburg

By Sue Moore

Policing in 2016 looks a lot different from 1991, when Captain Jim Mallery entered the Kalamazoo City police department. He described some of the changes to Vicksburg village council members at their April meeting.

Mallery was hired in March as assistant village manager with responsibility for the police department. This was his first report to the board after six weeks on the job. He is still working full time in Kalamazoo.

“We want to change the culture by embracing community policing,” Mallery said. “It is a culture based upon ‘wow’ service. By that we mean citizens meeting officers where they can focus on relationship building. We need the community’s trust and confidence to protect people and be able to truly help someone.”

“In the past, when we named such operations a ‘War on Drugs,’ for instance, it created warriors who then needed to create enemies. The next step is to identify enemy territory with heavy enforcement, creating a task enforcement culture. This creates a mentality that everyone is a criminal, when in fact, 94 to 97 percent of the population are law-abiding citizens. Only 3 to 6 percent is criminal. So police become cynical. Instead we feel the key is to build trust and legitimacy by embracing community policing,” Mallery explained.

“Police are the most recognized part of government. We will build this culture, one person at a time with a philosophical belief that we are guardians and servants to the public here in Vicksburg,” Mallery said. To this end, he expects to have a public meeting hosted by the Downtown Development Authority on April 21 at 6 p.m. at the community center to further explain this philosophy and the village has scheduled a meet and greet before the Village Council meeting on Monday, April 18 at 5:30 p.m.

The Vicksburg police staff of six full time officers and four part-time officers have fully embraced this change, he said. They are walking foot patrol in the day time and after 11 p.m. They are assisting at the schools in the village during drop-off and pick-up times, as well as the school resource officer who works inside the buildings. They plan to get engaged in other ways too by creating a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and wearing what Mallery calls Class A uniforms.

This may be outside the historical norm of policing he said, but it encompasses the “wow” service to be sure the department lives up to expectations. “We intend to make small little differences in a positive way.”

Mallery has lived that ideal. He serves as president of the Vicksburg Athletic Boosters which has donated over one million dollars to the high school sports scene. He and his wife, Stephanie, have raised three sons in the system after moving to Vicksburg in 1999. She has been an elementary teacher and is now the school district’s Instructional Coach, headquartered in the administration building.

The job with the Kalamazoo Police Department came about when Mallery’s college roommate at Western Michigan University got a job with the department and encouraged him to sign up, even though he had an undergraduate degree in business administration and a master’s in public administration. He ended up graduating from the police academy at KVCC and worked with his mentor, Chief of Police Dan Weston, for many years. He is an adjunct professor at Ferris State University, teaching police training courses.

Teaching these new techniques takes Mallery all over the U.S. as he has become a recognized expert in community policing. “Vicksburg is a community we love. It’s an honor to be able to serve its people and make a small little difference in a positive way.”

Public Invited to Hear Vicksburg Police Department Changes

A community meet and greet your Vicksburg police officers will be held before the village council meeting on April 18 between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Vicksburg District Library lower level.

On April 21 at 6 p.m. at the community center, Jim Mallery, assistant village manager, will explain the roadmap provided by the President’s 21st Century Policing Task Force. Mallery will provide Vicksburg business people and the general public with an entertaining look at the past 40 years of policing and how it has impacted relationships with citizens.  The presentation will highlight successful strategies that will move the local police culture to one that enhances relationships with the business community and citizens.  It is also designed to have attendees actively participate by offering suggestions, concerns, and expectations that they have for their police department. It is sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority.

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