Ridgeway police take on community policing approach

Ridgeway police take on community policing approach

The Village of Ridgeway Police Department is experimenting with changing titles like “officer in charge” to “village marshal” in order to increase its connection with the community.

Officer in Charge Micheal Gorham, though he has only been in his position for just over 40 days, said he announced the change in a Facebook post a week ago in order to make his policing philosophy clear.

“In the past, villages had village marshals and towns had town constables,” said Gorham. “Maybe by going back to that idea, we are embracing the values of a smaller community.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Training and Standards Bureau, there are three communities in the state with an official village marshal title. Additionally, the Wisconsin Police Chiefs Association said that village marshals have similar responsibilities to sheriffs under Wisconsin statutes.

“The title and all that are just semantics,” said Gorham. “What I’m really trying to do is communicate to the community, ‘Look, work together at solving problems.'”

According to Gorham, the idea is meant to reflect community policing practices in response to what he characterized as a former police administration overly focused on writing traffic citations.

It appears that the Ridgeway community is responding well to his proposal.

“People I talk to or run in to seem to like what he’s doing,” said Ridgeway Clerk Treasurer Lori Phelan. “What he’s doing is different, but it’s in a good way.”

The title change still needs to be voted on by the Village Board.

Gorham said that he is looking for community input on his proposal. Ridgeway residents can meet with him during “Coffee with a Cop” on Wednesday.

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