JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – Law enforcement in Jamestown have been hard at work over the past few years to break down barriers of distrust following the rise in police brutality nationwide.
The Jamestown Police Department specifically is striving to break this stigma.
“There’s definitely been a lack of appeal for the job with the way that the police in general have been viewed throughout the country, which has caused a lot of people to not want to pursue the profession,” explained Community Resource Officer Matthew Rhinehart.
In addition to routine patrols, Officer Matthew Rhinehart is the city’s first dedicated Community Resource Officer.
“We have tried to make it more known than it ever has been before how much the police are truly out to help people, and I believe that it has always been that way, it just hasn’t been in the spotlight,” said Rhinehart.
He is using social media to help break down barriers.
“It seems like now the internet is where that type of interaction or lack of interaction is displayed and the most visible, so we’ve tried to increase our presence with that sort of thing so that people can see what really happens in Jamestown and throughout Chautauqua County on a daily basis,” Rhinehart said.
No matter what the public thinks, officers in Jamestown remain dedicated to helping people.
“It’s truly nice to help people, especially as a police officer you’re typically dealing with a lot of people on some of their worst days and how we respond, whether it’s the police or fire department or an ambulance, how those people treat and interact with the victims and sometimes even the suspects of different incidents truly can be a huge factor on how that incident impacts them for the rest of their life,” explained Rhinehart.
In the end, Rhinehart says the best way to reduce conflict is simple.
“I would say the best thing you can do if you see an officer that’s out and they don’t look like they’re busy or handling a call or handling something like that, talk to them. Have a conversation, if you have a concern, they will listen to it. Even if you just want to have a general conversation with them, patrol officers are people and they will have a normal conversation with you as well,” Rhinehart said.