A cooperative effort between police departments in Whitehall and Reynoldsburg in 2017 to crack down on crime in both communities was only part of a continuing effort by Reynoldsburg officers to provide "a more visible police presence," according to acting police Chief Bill Early.
The effort includes a second police substation that opened Dec. 19 at 6553 E. Livingston Ave., in the Blacklick Plaza shopping center.
The first substation opened in August in the Taylor Square area, at 7639 Farmsbury Drive.
Early said officer Tammy Jackson is the community resource officer assigned to the Farmsbury substation.
"Our community resource officers are assigned to a specific geographical area," he said. "A lot of our major businesses are located in the Taylor Square area. Having our officers visible in that area can help to deter crime."
The anti-crime blitz with Whitehall police included the use of SWAT officers in high-crime areas in both cities several times in the past few months, Early said.
"We share resources with Whitehall police -- they sent their SWAT team crime vehicle and we sent one of ours," Early said. "The crime blitz operations are a way to assist each other so that we have the ability to reach a larger retail area."
He said the last crime blitz in Reynoldsburg was Nov. 30 at the Taylor Square Shopping Center, when at least 10 people were arrested, charged with theft or picked up on outstanding warrants.
A similar operation was held Dec. 2 in Whitehall when SWAT officers checked out the Great Eastern Shopping Center, Town and Country shopping center and Walmart, at 3657 E. Main St. That blitz produced 14 arrests and 22 charges, according to Whitehall police Sgt. Dan Kelso.
Reynoldsburg police officer Tony Hines, who is assigned to the Livingston Avenue substation, said better accessibility is the goal of establishing the substations.
"Officers will utilize these offices to hold meetings, conduct interviews, take reports and follow up on incidents," he said.
He said the department will periodically host community events at each substation such as "Coffee with a Cop," where people are invited to stop by and enjoy a beverage and snack while meeting Reynoldsburg police officers.
Early said the community resource officers are expected to spend about 40 percent of their time at the substation and 60 percent out on the streets.
"The officers would be assigned there during their eight-hour shift, plus second- and third-shift officers would also have the ability to meet residents there," he said.
Hines said the substations will make it more convenient for people who live nearby to file a complaint or report.
"The substations serve the same purpose as the main police station, with the exception of having a jail holding facility," he said. "There are no set hours for the substations, yet the public can go any time they are open or they can make appointments to meet officers there."
Now that the first substation has been open a while, the benefits to the community have been apparent, Hines said.
"It allows people to communicate with an officer while out running day-to-day errands and has benefitted businesses by cutting down on response times," he said. "It has also allowed them to maximize their resources without taking up too much time going to the police station to sign documents or drop off evidence."
The substations also give officers an additional place to stop and do paperwork or hold interviews and meetings.
Hines said the Coffee with a Cop events will be scheduled monthly.
"The January date will be sometime during the end of the month," he said. "The exact date and times will be published on our Facebook page and also on the department 'Next Door' app," he said.