Gold Hill’s crime prevention officer about to transfer to Stetson Hills

       Officer Robert Harris, who has been the Colorado Springs Police Department's Gold Hill Command's crime prevention officer (CPO) for the past three years, is transferring to the same position in the Stetson Hills Command.

Officer Robert Harris

       The hiring process for his Gold Hill replacement is under way, and he plans to help with the transition. “I would say the dust will all be settled by the end of March,” estimated Harris, who has been with the CSPD for 10 years in all.
       The CPO primarily works with Neighborhood Watch groups. Out of roughly 800 citywide, 180 are in the Gold Hill Command, which includes the downtown, Cheyenne area and the Westside south of Fillmore Street. Other CPO tasks include offering crime-prevention training classes and meeting with a Citizen Advisory Committee every other month.
       Harris emphasized that he has enjoyed working in Gold Hill. However, he lives in the Stetson Hills area, meaning a cross-town commute, so when the CPO for that division retired he decided to apply for it.
       One aspect he liked about Gold Hill was the established neighborhoods. “People know one another,” Harris said. “That makes my job extremely easy.”
       He did experience “one disadvantage” of working in this area. “People seemingly don't want to get overly involved until a problem directly affects their neighborhood,” he said. “And then we get calls from people in crisis mode.”
       The position of crime prevention officer is a limited carry-over from the neighborhood resource officer (NRO) that CSPD had in previous years, Harris explained. Under a unit that focused on “community policing,” the NROs would work with neighborhoods in an attempt to “attack and fix” crime problems before they got bad, he said.
       Recent city budget cutbacks have reduced such efforts. The current Crime Prevention unit includes some of the former community policing elements. However, with patrol duties also now part of the job description, the CPO position winds up being “more educational than hands-on,” Harris said.
       He liked it when when the department had a stronger community policing emphasis, which he described as being at the “forefront of proactive policing.” Harris said he'd become interested in community policing when he was in college. Before coming to Gold Hill, he'd been the NRO for three years in the Falcon Command.
       “It's hard to deny that police and neighborhoods working together can be very successful,” Harris said. “I can't say we fixed all the problems [in the days of the NRO], but at at least the neighbors could say we came out and tried. Today it's not that way. It's kind of sad, but it's a sign of the times, I suppose.”

Westside Pioneer article