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Radford Police Sergeant expands community engagement role to full-time

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 10:27 PM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - July 1 marks the start of new roles in many of our hometowns. In the City of Radford, a police officer will now be directly working with the community to continue to build public trust.

Sgt. Emily Hite’s role with the Radford City Police Department is shifting to focus on community engagement.

“I was doing it part time and now I can put all of my focus on the community, especially when we need it now,” Hite said.

Prior to this shift in roles, she worked a double role as a supervisor for the 9-1-1 center and community outreach.

“I had to prioritize what the day was going to be,” Hite said.

Now, she can stay out on the streets, finding specific public needs and bridging the connection between police and community.

“From day one, my mission’s been how can we do that better,” said Chief Jeff Dodson.

Since he started in his role as chief in January, Dodson has been pushing for even better community relationships.

“Another thing we have to remember is community outreach and community policing is not just one person’s job, it’s an agency culture, an agency mission,” Dodson said.

And whether through Virtual Chats with the Chief Wednesdays in July, or in person at the station or throughout the city, the goal is to keep building that trust.

“We can’t demand that trust, we have to gain that,” Dodson said. “The way we do that is earn that through the community and the way we do that is through positive engagement with the community.”

“We’re here to protect and serve our community, so we’re going to find out all different ways to do it and how we can expand and grow our program,” Hite said. “We live here, we serve here and if they know that we’re actually people and we’re here to help them in all aspects of their life, that we’re a good resource.”

Hite is working on a special National Night Out for October 6 focusing on crime prevention and community connections.

She plans to connect more with community groups and help to create neighborhood watch groups as needed. Hite has been with the city police department more than 14 years.

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