Irvine officers often invite students to the police department and also meet with kids in Irvine schools.
FIVEPOINT'S COMMITMENT TO PUBLIC SAFETY
Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel speaks at the
Solidarity March in Irvine.
“We have remained a safe city as a result of the deliberate actions of many stakeholders who are deeply invested in the Irvine community.”
Irvine Council member Christina Shea, with residents and officers at Irvine Blvd. pedestrian bridge opening
Irvine's first responders
How Irvine police succeed by staying close to the community they
serve and protect
By Kedric Francis | September 15, 2016
This past August, officers from the Irvine Police Department invited students from the Summer Enrichment Academy at Irvine’s Christ Our Redeemer AME Church to spend a day at City Hall and learn about police operations and investigations. The kids investigated a mock crime scene, dusted for prints, took photos and analyzed the evidence. Irvine officers often invite students to the police department and also meet with kids in Irvine schools. Parents know that if their son or daughter sees an officer on a coffee break, their child will not only be welcomed to visit with the officers, but likely will walk away with a highly prized Irvine police badge sticker.
Connecting with the community’s children is but one example of outreach policies and programs that help the Irvine Police Department maintain strong ties with citizens, a key factor in Irvine being lauded as America’s safest city.
The Irvine Police Department receives consistent praise and continuing accolades. For more than a decade, Irvine has had the lowest violent crime rate in the U.S. for cities of more than 100,000 people, according to FBI statistics cited on the city’s website.
BusinessInsider.com, 24/7WallStreet.com, and LawStreetMedia.com are among those that have named Irvine America’s Safest City, based on FBI statistics and other factors.
Since its founding in 1975, the department has had only five chiefs of police, a measure of stability in terms of leadership that many believe has contributed to the department’s success. The current chief is Mike Hamel, who explains some factors responsible for the city’s superior safety statistics.
“We have remained a safe city as a result of the deliberate actions of many stakeholders who are deeply invested in the Irvine community,” Hamel says. “Members of the Irvine Police Department fight crime around the clock and seek to foster public trust with every community contact.”
“City leaders have consistently supported public safety efforts, ensuring we have the necessary resources to provide only the highest level of service,” he says. “We are fortunate that our community works in partnership with us each day to prevent crime and promote the quality of life we have all come to appreciate.”
Many would agree that the city’s residents have a unity of purpose in maintaining what one writer recently characterized as the twin pillars of Irvine’s pride: safety and schools. They are key reasons Irvine is the fastest growing city in Orange County and has a worldwide reputation for excellence.
The partnership between the community and the police department can be seen around the city as officers routinely attend events and festivals to foster both public safety and community collaboration. Hamel, police department commanders and officers frequently meet with official groups and individuals who embody the cultural and ethnic diversity of Irvine’s citizenry. The department itself strives to reflect that diversity in its recruitment and employment of staff and officers.
The department’s command staff holds leadership meetings at schools, corporate offices and houses of worship, engaging with city leaders from a broad spectrum of the city.
In OC METRO magazine, former Irvine Police Chief David Maggard, who led the department for 12 years, explained why Irvine is a safe city.
In addition to the strong focus on community, Maggard credited the “thoughtfulness” of the city’s original master plan, the ongoing implementation of that master plan, and the policy of geographic policing as keys to the city’s safety record.
The latter is where patrol officers, investigators and traffic officers are assigned to one of three geographic areas in the city for a year, allowing them to become familiar with the citizens, businesses and potential safety issues in their part of the city.
The department also monitors events regionally, nationally and globally to be prepared for local impacts. In June of 2015, in the wake of a Charleston, S.C., church shooting, Irvine police patrolled Irvine’s AME Church.
“Whenever we’ve had discussions regarding community safety, the Irvine PD has always been ‘at the table’, very positive and providing guidance and assistance whenever requested or necessary,” says Rev. Mark Whitlock of the church.
Last month, Hamel and the Irvine Police Department took part in, and also helped escort and protect, the first ever Orange County Solidarity March, a unity march that drew OC law enforcement, community and faith leaders, educators and a diverse gathering of citizens from all walks of life to Irvine.
In an OC Register story after the march, reporter David Whiting wrote: “I have never witnessed the hues of diversity I saw on Irvine Center Drive.... Sheriff’s deputies in green walked beside Sikhs who walked with Christians, who walked with police officers in uniform who walked with Muslims who walked with rabbis.”
Serving and protecting the diverse populace of Irvine is part of the department’s vision statement: “We aspire to be a world-class leader in policing, a model for character, innovation, and service. We strive to protect our diverse and dynamic community with fairness, integrity, and respect for the rights of the individual. We resolve to develop a creative, forward-thinking workforce, dedicated to raising our level of excellence to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”