Community policing efforts aim to reduce crime

Racine County police chiefs band together
Posted at 10:47 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 23:47:08-04

It takes a neighborhood to reduce crime. That's been the philosophy of the Racine Police Department for the last two decades. The strategy is working so well they are now taking it to the next town over.

The Mount Pleasant Police Department wants to see the same success in crime reduction as Racine.

They are hoping they can take over a home in a bad area of town, and lower the crime rate.

And they used Racine's former and current chiefs to get the program in place.

'Come on in' is the message Mount Pleasant Police has for the neighbors of this house at 2237 Mead Street.

Mount Pleasant Police set up this Community Oriented Policing (COP) House on the village's far east side.

"This area was plagued with problems. We had shots fired complaints at night, we had complaints of drug dealing in the area," says Chief Tim Zarzecki, Mount Pleasant Police Department.

It's a story Racine Police have known all too well. In the early 90s the city had the worst crime rate in the state. Then Racine Chief Richard Polzie decided to do something drastic. He opened a home that police would work out of 24-7, but the community could use.

"We had a lot of enforcement activity going on but as quick as you'd leave a neighborhood it would turn back the way it was," says Former Chief Richard Polzie of the Racine Police Department.

In the first year, crime dropped by more than 70 percent in that neighborhood. Racine has since opened six homes, all funded privately.

"The entire city of Racine right now is at a 51-year low for part one crimes," says Polzie, referring to the most violent types of crime.

But when the former and current Racine chiefs saw crime growing in the next town over they took action to get the funds for a house in Mt. Pleasant.

"We had the background, we had the experience, we had the knowledge base so we just reached out to the business community business community and said look what we accomplished in Racine, we want to help Chief Zarzecki accomplish that in Mt. Pleasant," says Chief Art Howell of the Racine Police Department.

The Mount Pleasant COP House had its official grand opening this Wednesday afternoon. The village also opened a park across the street and named it in honor of the former Racine chief Richard Polzie.