Annapolis police, hoping to build better relations with communities,plan to open five new offices.
Placing at least one member of thefive-officer Community Oriented Police Squad (COPS) in a different area also is expected to reduce non-emergency calls for service, Assistant Chief Joseph S. Johnson said.
"The new approach will provide information to the community that may not be related to crime-fighting," he said. As examples, he citedelectrical, plumbing and neighborhood conflicts police do not normally handle.
About 90 percent of calls for service are non-emergency; and about half of those calls are not police- or crime-related, police say.
"We also hope to build bridges in the community and get the community involved," Johnson said.
Since June, COPS officers have worked out of the Harbour House public housing complex. Its members patrol as a team in different areas every day or in several areas aday.
Although the new plan will separate them, Johnson said if a major problem arose in another part of the city, the squad could be pulled together to handle it.
The Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce has donated space in its office on Taylor Avenue for two of the officers, Johnson said.
While police are still looking for more donated space for the other offices, the five officers have already begun their new foot patrols.
Under the new strategy, Officer CynthiaHoward will work the Parole and Bywater communities between West Street, Forest Drive and Spa Road.
Officer Greg Kirchner will patrol the downtown area, Murray Hill and President's Hill. Officer Scott Davis will work Admiral Heights, West Annapolis and Wardour. Officer Steve Church will patrol the Edgewood Road, Hunt Meadows, Bens Drive and the Hillsmere areas. Officer George Kelly will work the Eastport community and areas near Truxtun Park.
Officers will spend a few hours a day in the offices so they're available to hear residents' concerns.
"I think it's the future of policing," Johnson said of the new approach. "It's getting back to the basics and getting an officer out there."
If residents with non-emergency complaints know they can see their neighborhood officer the next day, Johnson predicted, they will be more likely to hold that complaint instead of dialing 911.
Reducing calls for service is "critical," Johnson said, particularly during tough economic times.