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Thomasville’s Chief of Police Troy Rich has been tapped to help lead a committee that fits right in line with his personal philosophy of community oriented policing. Rich has been named co-chair of the Community Policing Committee for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. As a committee chair, his participation will help shape the IACP’s policy and expand the Association’s reach and contributions in the field.

“I’m very honored to be named co-chair of this committee,” said Rich. “It’s also a great opportunity for me to learn from other law enforcement agencies, both nationally and internationally, to see how they are strengthening their relationships within their communities.”

In Rich’s opinion, community oriented policing is the backbone of police organizations. “It fosters partnerships, communication and trust within the community. Without incorporating this philosophy, law enforcement efforts wouldn’t be as successful.”

During his year leading the Community Policing committee, incoming IACP President Lou Dekmar from LaGrange, Georgia has made it a priority to emphasize the “One Mind Campaign”, which is an initiative for law enforcement agencies to partner with one or more mental health organizations. The initiative will encourage agencies to have clearly defined policies as well as training benchmarks for both Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety (MFHA) and Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).

“We’ve already started working towards a better understanding of situations that involve mental illness,” said Rich. “Thomasville Police Department officers have been working with the Crisis Intervention Center to help build partnerships with our local organizations so that we can be more effective in these types of encounters. It all ties back to community oriented policing and building upon the relationships in your community to better serve your citizens.” According to Rich, effectively managing these situations is a challenge for law enforcement officers nationwide on a daily basis.

Rich is passionate about community oriented policing and believes initiatives like the One Mind Campaign “puts more action” in the philosophy. “It puts the philosophy into practice so it isn’t just words,” he said. “There are many facets that go into an effective program, including engagement and transparency. We try to demonstrate this through the programs we engage in with our local community.”

One of those programs is the ‘Guardians of Democracy’ Community and Police Unity Council that TPD began in the summer of 2016 and has since continued to grow. As part of this program, TPD shared with community leaders several relevant goals and initiatives that impact law enforcement. As part of this program, topics including use of force, implicit/explicit bias, warrior vs. guardian mindset and other initiatives and trends were discussed.

“For programs such as the unity council to be successful, it must involve meaningful two-way communication,” said Rich. “This means that not only do we share about our initiatives, but we also listen to our community to hear how we are doing. To have true transparency and accountability, you must have open dialog, and the unity council allows us to come to the table and have these discussions so that we can continue to build trust within our community.”

Rich said that leading the Community Policing Committee for the IACP is something he welcomes. “It will allow me to not only learn from other agencies who are encountering similar issues, but will also give me the opportunity to share some of the success we’ve found locally,” he said. “We have an incredibly supportive community; they are truly partners with the Thomasville Police Department and help us achieve our mission.”

Rich’s appointment to the IACP committee will become effective next month at the annual conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will serve a one-year term.

(click image to enlarge) Chief Rich helps one of Thomasville’s youngest residents, Kerica Lashaee Willingham, with a cold drink at a recent community gathering.