Roeland Park police block captain program ready to start, exceeds expectations for volunteers

Roeland Park corporals Warren Gardner (L), and Charlie Kotcher and Police Chief John Morris (R) display some of the old neighborhood watch signs from years ago.
Roeland Park corporals Warren Gardner (L), and Charlie Kotcher and Police Chief John Morris (R) display some of the old neighborhood watch signs from years ago when announcing the neighborhood program back in January.

The Roeland Park Police Department will roll out its new community policing effort next week with its first meeting of neighborhood block captains. Sixteen people have volunteered to participate by becoming block captains for their neighborhoods and Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris is thrilled that the program is being so well received. The number of volunteers far exceeds his expectation for the initial roll-out.

The volunteers also “represent a wide spectrum of all areas of the city,” Morris said. Not only are multiple neighborhoods represented, but the age range of the volunteers runs from people in their mid-30s to those in retirement, he said.

Morris announced the plan to create an newly energized community policing strategy that includes a neighborhood watch and block captains in early January with the hope to be able to recruit volunteers and launch by late spring. The first block captain meeting will be held at 6 p.m. May 27 at the police department.

The initial meeting will be to show them how the program works. “Basically, it is an information-sharing network,” Morris said. “It only works if they are energized.” The captain works the neighborhood to help connect people. It is about neighbors knowing each other and looking out for each other. And it’s off to a good start in Roeland Park, judging by the initial response.