Rocky Mount City Manager Charles Penny

Rocky Mount City Manager Charles Penny

Charkes Penny: Kudos to police, firefighters for jobs well done

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Public safety was addressed during the Rocky Mount City Council meeting on Feb. 8.

I am pleased to highlight the accomplishments from the police and fire departments. Thanks to qualified personnel, an emphasis on training and assistance from residents, there have been achievements in crime reduction, community initiatives, the percentage of property saved and recruitment efforts.

The Rocky Mount Police Department is committed to reducing crime. Police Chief James Moore reported the most recent crime data from 2015, including a 16 percent reduction in violent crime, a 15 percent drop in property crime and a 16 percent decrease in total Part 1 crimes, which consist of homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft and arson. In addition to these reductions, in 2015, the city of Rocky Mount experienced the lowest number of actual crimes reported in 37 years.

Crime reductions may be attributed to more community involvement and outreach. For example, Coffee with a Cop is a program designed to allow police officers and community members to discuss issues and learn about each other over a cup of coffee. Additionally, the police department conducted three Know Your Rights symposiums, which provided local citizens information on police procedures and policies.

The Rocky Mount Fire Department also made strides in 2015, such as surpassing an industry best standard for the percentage of property saved. The industry benchmark is 90 percent for saving property from fire. In 2015, the Rocky Mount Fire Department saved 97 percent of properties engaged in fire.

While fire suppression is a primary responsibility of the fire department, it also provides emergency medical response. Last year, 12 percent of people who suffered cardiac arrest and were treated by fire department personnel left the scene with a pulse and breathing.

Comparable to police, the fire department is also heavily involved in the community. One example is the Firefighter Academy, a partnership between the Rocky Mount Fire Department and Rocky Mount High School. Interested students are prepared for careers in the fire industry by taking North Carolina firefighter certification classes, or 20 different subjects over 300 hours. The four-year process allows students to become certified by the state as firefighters and ready to enter the workforce upon graduation. The program was developed to peak fire industry interest of students from varied backgrounds.

In 2015, the fire department also started a new initiative. Two recruitment open houses were held to assist in filling vacant positions. There, potential candidates learned the duties of firefighters, the responsibilities of the department and what constitutes the hiring process. Thanks to the open house event, 81 candidates made it to the interview process after testing. The year prior, less than 45 advanced.

I am proud of the successes of our public safety departments. Please join me in applauding their achievements, and please continue to help us advance our goal of excellent public service, excellent customer service and innovation.