When Officer Todd Powell strolls down the narrow streets of Brooklyn Heights, he's looking for anything that's out of place, and he usually finds it.
Keeping his eyes peeled once netted him a handgun arrest. Another time, he caught two people ducking behind a car late at night and arrested them for breaking into a car near the Cromwell Field light rail station.
When community members needed assistance getting their trash picked up or getting abandoned cars towed, he typed and delivered about 300 copies, door-to-door, of a list of telephone numbers for county services so neighbors would know what numbers to call. He keeps extra copies in his police cruiser in case someone needs one.
"We never knew who to get in touch with to clean up this neighborhood until he gave us those phone numbers," said Etta Harmon, a neighborhood watch block captain. "We're very proud of Officer Powell. When we need him, he's there."
Doing a little extra won Powell the North County Chamber of Commerce Officer of the Year award Oct. 21. The 27-year-old officer has patrolled Brooklyn Park for a little over a year, and his supervisors say it did not taken him long to get to know the folks in the neighborhood, friend and foe.
"Detectives are always coming to him with pictures asking, 'Who's this guy?' and he always knows," said Sgt. Steven McCullen. "The community he works for, he gives them good service."
Brooklyn Park, Powell's patrol area, is one of the busiest areas in the county.
It's an older area filled with rowhouses formerly occupied by some of the first families to appreciate suburban living.
As those early homeowners retired or moved away, several sold their small brick houses with tiny yards to companies or individuals who converted them to apartments and rented them out.
Over the years, drugs, violence and prostitution crept into the neighborhood, plaguing some older residents who could not or would not move and prompting others to flee.
It is in this area that Powell some days parks his cruiser and walks, stopping to chat with youths on a basketball court and looking for new faces.
"Being in a small post, you get to know a lot of people in the community," he said. "A lot of times when I see someone in a neighborhood I've never seen before, I introduce myself, tell them who I am and ask their name and address."
His proudest accomplishment, he says, is when he can get guns off the streets.
"It's scary to me, and I'm sure it's scary to somebody else, that someone is walking around with [a gun]," he said. "It's nice to get it out of the hands of somebody who could use it in a dangerous way."
Pub Date: 11/02/97