Local police focusing on community outreach and understanding - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Local police focusing on community outreach and understanding

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GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

With tension at an all-time high between police and community members in Ferguson, Missouri, departments close to Charlotte are stressing the importance of community outreach.

Kevin McSwain is the Community Coordinator Sergeant for the Gastonia Police Department. He helps organize neighborhood crime watch programs and oversees three officers who are assigned to three different geographical districts within Gastonia.

Those officers focus strictly on their assigned neighborhoods, making sure they talk with residents there and understand any tension that may exists.

McSwain said his officers also work with residents to weed-out crime from trouble areas.

"We bring them (residents) crime issues related to their particular community. We try to answer questions they may have or concerns about crime in their area and not only crime but other issues that may be affecting their quality of life," McSwain said. "The biggest benefit we have from this is just the relationships, gaining positive relationships out here."

McSwain tells WBTV some of his officers also live in the communities they serve to increase communication between the department and Gastonia's neighborhoods.

"When there is a gap between the police and community, that gap is the crook's playground, and so anything we can do to bridge it, it helps to take that playground away," McSwain said.

Gastonia Police tell WBTV they have worked particularly hard to embed themselves within the west Gastonia district, an area that experiences a lot of drug and prostitution crime.

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