Conn. police agency debuts 'roving' community outreach van

The new mobile outpost was purchased with a Choice Neighborhood Initiative grant


By Pat Tomlinson
The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.

NORWALK, Conn. — There’s a new community policing headquarters in town, and it sits on four wheels.

Last week, the Norwalk Police Department unveiled its Community Engagement Van, a new mobile outpost that officials say will help community police officers connect with the neighborhoods they are sworn to protect.

Norwalk police officers stand in front of the department's new Community Engagement Van, revealed September 17, 2020. (Photo/Norwalk Police Department)
Norwalk police officers stand in front of the department's new Community Engagement Van, revealed September 17, 2020. (Photo/Norwalk Police Department)

The sleek, black van will serve as a more inviting alternative to a traditional police cruiser, said Community Police Services Sgt. Sofia Gulino.

“Its purpose isn’t response to crime, but rather as a proactive outreach and engagement van,” Gulino said. “It allows us to engage the community, to have conversations and to make it a little easier for people to come and approach us.”

The van will serve as a “roving office” for community police officers, allowing them to spend more of their time out among the people of the community, Gulino said.

“A lot of people don’t have access to social media, don’t hear about our events or just don’t feel comfortable walking into our police station, so this is about us being out there and available in the communities themselves to interact and build bridges,” Gulino said.

The van has a desk and table in the back, which can be used for filing a report or filling out paperwork. A retractable tent stored inside the van can also be pulled out during special events.

Gulino said the van will typically be stationed near the newly redeveloped Ryan Park and the Soundview Landing apartments, formerly known as Washington Village, on Day and Raymond streets.

The van is the result of a collaborative effort between law enforcement officials, the Norwalk Housing Authority and the Norwalk Redevelopment Agency. It was purchased with $80,000 from a Choice Neighborhood Initiative grant obtained by the housing and redevelopment authorities.

The funds for the new van come from the $30 million in funding that the Norwalk Housing Authority received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to renovate the old Washington Village housing complex.

Thomas Ivers, director of the Norwalk Housing Authority’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, said the van is part of a plan to make “critical community improvements” that will allow the new community to thrive.

“The whole development is going to cost around $182 million, and if you make that kind of an investment, a small investment in crime prevention is a really smart move,” Ivers said. “People are going to want to live there if they don’t feel safe.”

The redevelopment of the Soundview Landing complex is more than halfway complete, with 165 of 273 total apartments available. The remaining 108 apartments are expected to be completed by the summer of 2021, Ivers said.

©2020 The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Recommended for you

Police Grants

Sponsored by

Copyright © 2020 Police1. All rights reserved.