Fishers Police Department Seeks to Maximize Community Engagement
Photographer / Robby Berry
The goal of any police department is to serve and protect local residents. However, the Fishers Police Department (FPD) prides itself on taking this one step further. Officers frequently interact with members of the community. During the stay-at-home orders of 2020, this was particularly difficult for the FPD.
Police Chief Ed Gebhart wants to get back into community interaction during the rest of this year.
“During last year, we weren’t able to participate in most of our education programs for Fishers residents, because of COVID,” Gebhart says. “We weren’t able to hold our Citizens Academy, go into schools for educational programs, or do ride-alongs. My vision coming out of COVID is going to be a big effort on our part to get back out into our community, and to re-establish those connections.”
There are several ways Fishers residents can get involved in community police programs.
“Our Citizens Academy is starting back up,” Gebhart says. “Residents sign up for the course and learn about topics such as criminal law, crime prevention, the K-9 program, defensive tactics and narcotics training. We also offer a Teen Academy for local youths. Our FPD Cadet program is back and we’re actively recruiting.”
The officers and Command Staff make appearances at local events to provide an opportunity for conversations with a cop.
“We like to make appearances at the Fishers Farmers Market and events like Spark!Fishers,” Gebhart says. “We try to take every opportunity to bridge the gap of communication between residents and FPD. We also always want our officers to be approachable.”
One of the measures the department is taking to combat negative perceptions is being transparent with policies and procedures.
A complete list of FPD policies, procedures and accreditations is listed on their website.
“The website is great because you can go there and look at all the content,” Gebhart says. “You can read all the statistics. We want our residents to see it. However, I believe it’s better to have a conversation about it rather than just staring at the words and numbers. That’s why we will be having an open discussion on National Night Out. I will address the public and have a conversation about what is and what isn’t going on in the City of Fishers.”
It’s crucial to Gebhart that the community sees officers in positive roles – not just during traffic stops.
“We want to make sure we’re providing resources for our communities,” Gebhart says. “We’re always there to help our community, not just to pull people over. We want to make sure we’re providing resources to our community.”
The Relay smartphone application provides a way for citizens to assist police officers with potentially helpful information.
“The application allows members of our community to report non-emergency situations to our officers via smartphone,” Gebhart says. “The platform runs in the officers’ vehicles and gives them a way to do their job better. The Fishers community is quite youthful and tech-savvy. This is just another way for us to communicate with the public.”
One way the FPD is keeping Fishers safe is by removing illegal crime guns from the hands of criminals.
“We’ve partnered with the Crime Gun Task Force where we go after people who possess illegal firearms,” Gebhart says. “We do have some violence moving into our community. To date, we’ve taken 228 illegal firearms off the street. I believe it’s worth noting that we continue to be aggressive on that side of the ball, as well as our education side of the ball, so we can continue to enjoy the safety around us.”
For more information, visit fishers.in.us/241/Fishers-Police-Department.