Citizens and Police ... Friendship Through Education
The Houston Police Department has had a Community Service Division since the Seventies. When a group of citizens requested a presentation on a crime prevention topic, they would send one of their officers to the group and advise them what they could do to keep from becoming crime victims again. This is proactive policing. In 1982, out of the patrol division came the idea that citizens also need to know more about their police department before a crime occurred in their neighborhood. From this idea came the concept of the Positive Interaction Program, "PIP."
A police agency can be very confusing to most citizens. The Positive Interaction Program holds monthly PIP meetings featuring speakers from different divisions (Burglary and Theft, Homicide, K-9, Helicopters, etc.) explaining how their division operates. This is done so citizens will know what to expect, should they ever need the police. The department was not sure how citizens would react to coming to a police station once a month for a presentation on a different division. So, the Positive Interaction Program was started as a pilot project in only one police station to begin with. The Program has proven to be an overwhelming success.
A presentation from a different police division or law enforcement agency each month. You may hear what a judge, district attorney, state prison warden, or a county boot camp director has to say about what they are doing to fight crime.
A chance to meet the officers that patrol your neighborhood and get to know them on a first name basis. You even hear from the Captain of your sub-station. (This is the person that can tell you what your station will be doing in the future.)
Each month a different person is chosen to ride with a police officer on an actual tour of duty. At the next month's meeting, you'll get to hear from the "citizen-rookie" about his or her experience.
Crime statistics are given out at the end of each monthly meeting. There are seven categories of crimes listed, each including the date, time, block address, and type of location where the crime occurred. The PIP Crime Statistics are also available on the Internet.
After each formal meeting, a second, informal meeting is held (usually with refreshments!) You'll have an opportunity to talk to other citizens who attended the meeting with you -- you may find you have a lot in common and even exchange ideas on how to help solve your neighborhood problems.
Lots of other things happen at PIP meetings: citizens give crime tips, members may collect food for the hungry in their community or raise money for scholarships, the PIP group may honor an officer for outstanding work in the area, and being invited to a meeting with the chief is not uncommon. You must be a member of a division PIP group to be eligible to attend the Citywide PIP meeting.
Remember, PIP does not send an officer out to your group. Your civic association should send your neighborhood residents to the police station for the civic PIP meeting.
Growth of "PIP"
Since the pilot program of PIP in 1983 at one sub-station, it has grown considerably. There are now thirty PIP groups that meet every month throughout the city. Not all are Civic Association PIP's. There are now Apartment, Business, School, and even a Deaf and Hard of Hearing PIP group. Some PIP groups meet during lunch, some at night, and one even has a breakfast meeting. All have the same purpose: to learn more about their police department.
Statement of Purpose
The education of the citizens of Houston on how their police department functions is essential to the PIP program. Once a citizen understands how the police department does its job, that citizen can better relay to the police department their neighborhood needs.
The free flow of information and ideas gives us both a better understanding of each other's needs and expectations. This fosters trust and friendship between citizens and the police department that serves them. Cooperation between the Houston Police Department and the citizens is imperative in the reduction of crime and enhancing the overall quality of life in their neighborhoods.
For more information, please contact:
The Citywide "PIP" Coordinator, Officer James Sobota
Voice 713.308.9079 / TTY 713.908.9071 / Fax 713.308.9073
Interpreter and Captioning provided