Burlington city leaders approve Community Police Advisory Team

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BURLINGTON, N.C. — Strengthening relationships between police officers and the people they serve. The Burlington city council just approved a request from city leaders to create a Community Police Advisory Team.

The team will be made up of 15 to 20 people who live in different neighborhoods in Burlington. As a group they will address concerns in their backyards.

“Community policing is entirely about building relationships,” said Chief Jeffrey Smythe, of the Burlington Police Department.

For the city of Burlington, those relationships are essential in keeping things peaceful.

“All the data tells us that communities are more lawful when they respect the position of their police and therefore the police have to act less when the community polices itself,” Smythe said.

The community police advisory team, or C-PAT, will represent all areas of the community.

“Religious diversity, racial diversity, socioeconomic diversity,” Smythe said.

Smythe says issues and neighborhood concerns will be reported to police.

“If the community wants more traffic enforcement or less traffic enforcement we need to know that and deliver that in an appropriate manner. When violent crime spikes we need to work with the community and address those issues in a holistic way,” Smythe said.

Mayor Ian Baltutis tells FOX8 the team will actively listen to people’s opinions.

“Specifically making a pathway that welcomes individuals that have had a negative police interaction is absolutely key for this,” Baltutis.

Suzan Evans believes this new team will also add protection and put extra eyes and ears in the community.

“I think it would be an excellent direction to go in. We can all be very skilled at what we do and we can all have the very best intentions and great experience but we can never, ever forget who we are representing. I think to go directly to the people you are serving and say how can we best help you I think that way we don’t miss anything,” Evans said.

Braxton Thompson hopes this will diffuse tension in the community.

“We should be focused on making things better, you know talking it out,” Thompson said.

Once participants are selected, CPAT will meet once a month and present their findings to city leaders and to you.

“When a police entity acts as a parent, when they say, ‘I know what’s best for you,’ that’s not the best operational tactic so we need to operate in a space that says you’re the public, you’re our boss and this is a mechanism to better channel their desires and their wishes for us into our operational tactics,” Smythe said.

Smythe hopes to have the team in place by the New Year. The first meeting is slated for late January or early February. Those meetings will be streamed live.

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