Strategy: Educational Presentations by Police to Businesses and Their Employees
Local law enforcement will experience greater cooperation and success with crime prevention programs if they include local businesses and corporate offices as community sectors who need education on these issues. Informed owners, managers, and employees are better equipped to protect themselves, the interests of the business, and the surrounding community if the police department helps them learn about crime prevention techniques and tactics.
Community Problem Addressed
Employees, owners, and managers of businesses are not always viewed as consumers of crime prevention information. Information provided to them by local police can help these community members better understand how to prevent work-site problems, such as property crime, vandalism, substance abuse, and assault. The workplace is also a convenient place to reach employees with tested information about self-protection, community-based crime prevention strategies, and tactics to help keep children safe and healthy.
Crime prevention education presentations by police to local company executives and employees are usually conducted at the request of the business owner or manager. The request may relate to an occurrence at the work site (theft, substance abuse, workplace violence, dangerous driving) or the firm's interest in helping prevent such incidents. In addition, crime prevention education presentations for employees on such topics as safety for latch-key children, conflict resolution skills for parents and youth, or talking to children about drugs or strangers may be offered by the firm as an expression of its commitment to employees' concerns or as a benefit of the employee assistance plan. Typically the presentations are a one-time event designed to provide basic information and tips on a specific issue. The police officer provides handouts and exercises to help emphasize key points.
The key partnership is the relationship between the crime prevention experts at the local police department and the managers and owners of local businesses. The familiarity of these folks with the resources of the police department increases the likelihood that they will see the department as a resource for their firm and its employees. Also, having held an educational presentation provides the crime prevention specialist with an opportunity to better understand the potential of the business to support other community-based crime prevention programs, either through volunteers, in-kind support, or donations of equipment or space. The chamber of commerce also can help by publicizing the availability of police department presentations to area businesses and by fielding requests. Trained chamber volunteers could even be used as presenters for certain workshops, particularly those on issues directly related to work-site crime concerns.
It may be difficult for small police agencies to respond to the number of requests that may be generated as a result of an extensive publicity or outreach program. Trained community-based or local government service providers or chamber of commerce volunteers should be considered as a resource to help meet this need. It may be more reasonable for the local law enforcement agency to offer a limited array of course options initially until it can assess the demand for presentations and the resources required to address those needs.
Examples of Success and Results
Many of the National Crime Prevention Council's licensed products, such as McGruff's Guide to Drugs (a slide guide highlighting symptoms of a variety of substances) were featured handouts at crime and drug prevention education presentations conducted in 1998 and 1999 to employees of corporate facilities and locally owned businesses in Deer Park, Texas [population 35,400]. The presentation on road rage prevention at one corporate facility was so well received that the company manager told his friends at other facilities and they responded by requesting similar presentations. The crime prevention officer for the Deer Park Police Department now speaks regularly throughout the area on home and business security, recognizing the signs of drug use in children, domestic violence prevention and victim assistance, and youth violence prevention tactics for parents. This initiative marks the city's most extensive prevention partnership to date with area businesses.