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Tuesday, Oct 29 2013 06:00 AM

TPD adds crime prevention officer to aid community

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Police Chief Jeff Kermode introduced Teri Cryer, the Tehachapi Police Department�s new community outreach coordinator, to the City Council at their Oct. 7 meeting. Cryer will be responsible for reaching out to the community and teaching about crime prevention. Emily Brunett / Tehachapi News

"Policing" is defined as the regulation, control or keeping of order by police. Although the members of the Tehachapi Police Department do this, Chief Jeff Kermode thought something was missing.

"As we looked our operations last year and we were preparing the budget for this year, an area that we thought we weren't doing as much as we could was in the area of crime prevention," the chief said at the Oct. 7, City Council meeting. "So we put in the budget this year funds for a part-time community service officer, to be our crime prevention and community outreach coordinator."

Enter Teri Cryer.

Having volunteered with the department as an adviser to the Police Explorers, Cryer was an easy fit for what Kermode envisioned.

"Teri's a long-time resident of our community," he said to the council. "She's been a volunteer for the police department for the last four years and has shown her commitment and dedication through that."

Kermode said she previously worked for the Bureau of Land Management as a firefighter, conducting public education sessions and briefings during wild land fires. He indicated she would be using some of those skills in her new position.

"Teri's job is going to be coordinate things like Neighborhood Watch, get those established in our community, on a block-by-block level," Kermode said. "Business watches, in the downtown areas, if the other shopping areas wish to engage, we can share that information."

"I'm looking at different avenues of crime prevention," Cryer said. "I've talked to the officers about what the problem areas are in this area, and I'm primarily looking at burglaries."

Despite having been on the job for less than a month, Cryer had already put together lists of all the area apartment managers and mini-storage facilities, with a plan to sit down and talk about crime prevention, Kermode said.

"I'll be working with businesses in reducing their business as prime targets for crime," Cryer said.

She said she has attended a few trainings, the most recent being a two-week course to become a certified crime prevention officer, from which she will return next week.

"So she'll learn about everything from dead bolts, to security lighting, and be able to go out and do home security inspections, help individual businesses, and then do the greater community outreach," Kermode said, explaining to the councilmembers.

Cryer has already touched base with Greater Tehachapi Crime Watch, a startup group by local residents who urge crime reporting and vigilance.

Aaron Mauldin is the group's secretary.

"We are very excited to be working with Teri on crime prevention tactics and engaging the community," Mauldin said. "The TPD and Kern County Sheriff's Department have been really great in working with our group this year. Having someone at the police department able to dedicate even more time toward organizing community efforts is great news for everyone."

"I'm in good communication with them," Cryer said. "We've already formed a really good relationship."

A separate position needed to be created for the outreach because the duties could not reasonably be doled out to the existing officers, according to Kermode and Cryer.

"The officers don't necessarily have time to do [what I will be doing]," the new hire said. "The officers have actually been doing this role aready, so I'm really just relieving them of this duty."

Cryer encourages community members to contact her about setting up neighborhood watches and business owners to inquire about crime prevention. She can be reached via email at tcryer@tehachapipd.com, or 822-2222, ext. 117.

"A neighborhood watch is not official unless it is tied in with the police department," Cryer said. "I can help put them on the right foot."

"We are very excited to be working with Teri on crime prevention tactics and engaging the community," Mauldin said. "She has great enthusiasm and lots of good ideas...Having someone like Teri who can concentrate on community relationships, crime prevention strategies, etc., will go a long way."

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