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The City of Marietta is on a roll in terms of public safety. Crime in the city continues to decline to all-time lows while citizen trust and engagement with the Marietta Police Department continues to grow. It is a positive scenario city leaders have been pursuing for years and they want to build on the public safety/quality-of-life partnership momentum. Building on a model used successfully elsewhere, the city has developed and funded a new initiative in which citizens will serve as “Public Safety Ambassadors (PSAs)”
The idea behind the PSA program is to hire citizens (initially 10) who will be trained and authorized to perform limited police functions such as handling a variety of low-risk police service calls, directing traffic and performing community problem-solving techniques with Marietta citizens. PSAs will not be armed nor authorized to arrest or detain suspects, write citations, nor use force other than in self-defense. Generally, they will handle non-dangerous police duties and increase police efficiency by freeing up police officers’ time so they can concentrate more on fighting and preventing crime, handling public safety emergencies, and dealing with troublesome traffic situations.
According to Marietta Chief Dan Flynn, “We plan to hire PSAs who reflect the demographics of our city, and have articulate oral and written communications skills. Like our police officers, we want them to have positive people-friendly interpersonal skills so they can build on confidence in the police and the kinds of community partnerships that will help us continue to improve public safety in Marietta.”
By the Fall of 2017, Marietta citizens should start seeing PSAs assisting citizens around city parks, schools and special events. If they call the police to report lost or found property, disabled or abandoned vehicles or private property accidents, citizens may find a PSA responding promptly to handle the call. Meanwhile, if the caller prefers a regular police officer, there will be no push-back. A police officer will be dispatched in a normal fashion.
PSAs will be accountable to MPD police patrol supervisors who will assign and deploy them wherever they can do the most good to help officers and the community. It is also important for everyone to know that PSAs are not designed to replace police officers, but rather help them as a paralegal assists an attorney, physician’s assistant assists a physician or a parapro assists a teacher. Finally, it is our sincere hope that the Marietta community accepts PSAs in the spirit in which they are intended; to continue to improve public safety services and quality of life in Marietta.