MARTINSVILLE (WSLS 10) - The crime rate in Martinsville is down about 50 percent compared to last year and department leaders say that's due in part to community policing.
Now, hundreds of officers in Southside could soon be better trained in community policing thanks to a grant the department received.
Increasing contact and developing relationships with community members continues to be a major focus of the Martinsville Police Department.
The department requires all officers to receive community policing training.
But now, because of how successful this has been in helping reduce crime in the city the department wants to help other agencies get the training, too.
"We're opening it up to our whole region, the Piedmont Criminal Justice Training Academy region, or anywhere else," said Martinsville Deputy Police Chief Maj. Eddie Cassady.
Two people WSLS spoke to say they appreciate the department's effort.
"We have a new chief that's been here a couple of years and I think he's really doing a great job," said Mordecai Travis.
"I think they need to do it just in case. I don't think there's a lot of problems like you see on the news, but you never know," said Patricia Crummie.
The police department received a state grant for just over $19,000 to pay for a community policing expert to teach a class in January and a class in February about verbal de-escalation and a class in March about community policing in general.
"The main course that we wanted to have was the verbal de-escalation," Maj. Cassady emphasized. "Training officers to be able to talk down situations."
There are 300 spots available for each class, all of which will be held at the New College Institute in Martinsville.
The verbal de-escalation classes will be held January 19-20th and February 21-22nd. The community policing class will be held on March 13th.
Contact the Piedmont Regional Criminal Justice Training Academy at (276) 632-1149.
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