For a community with relatively low crime rates, the introduction of a new community liaison officer to Clintonville represents the beginning of a partnership that neighborhood leaders hope will last for years.

Officer Chris Riley of the Columbus Division of Police has stepped into the role for Clintonville.

He's been with the division for 25 years, serving as a liaison officer in the Franklinton, Easton and North Linden neighborhoods since 1998.

Riley also serves on the board of the Ohio Crime Prevention Association and has held additional assignments in aviation and counterterrorism units in his career.

In his new assignment, being attentive to the needs of the community is key, he said.

"Listening and outlining solutions, actions and processes that address resident and business concerns (is important)," he said. "Success comes in varying levels."

Riley is filling the shoes of Ted Stacy, who previously served in the role.

Clintonville Area Commission chairwoman B.J. White said she has lived in Clintonville for more than 20 years and said Stacy had been the liaison officer for "as long as I can remember."

She said he was replaced briefly by Alesia Zacher, who was brought in from the North Linden neighborhood for only a week before that community demanded she be returned.

But White said she and other leaders are familiar with Riley. She said she found out about his appointment after running into him at a community function.

"I went up to him and said, 'So, are you going to hook us up with a community liaison?' and he threw his business card at me," she said with a laugh.

White said in a community with a low crime rate and few serious incidents, being a police liaison is a community-facing job. She said she hopes Riley can build the same knowledge and rapport with residents as his predecessor.

"The relationship between community and police liaison is that they're able to attach a little more human intervention than calling the emergency line or 311 and letting things kind of happen," she said.

"They offer a little more human interaction and community engagement. So if we're talking about a crime area or a home with concerns, they know the house number and they already know the scoop."

Riley said "safety involving youth and at-risk populations" is his main priority, but added he needs to conduct an "informal needs assessment" that he hopes is complete later this year.

He said he hopes to be "the link to police and other city resources," and will work with community groups, schools, faith-based organizations and businesses to "develop solutions to crime and quality-of-life concerns."

"(It's about) being able to engage like-minded people to find solutions to problems that are larger than themselves," he said.

"Clintonville has an abundance of skills and intellect that can be tapped as a resource," he said. "The appreciation of prevention and participation is unique."

White said the issues Riley will deal with should be minimal, but she hopes he can become a trusted community asset.

"When you're in a role like this, you begin to hear routine complaints and you're able to kind of attach those complaints to a demographic or a block," she said. "You kind of know that this isn't serious crime or breaking into homes.

"When you talk to people in other communities, you realize how fortunate we are. Maybe there's someone with a sofa on the curb for three days before it gets picked up," she said.

"Aren't we lucky to have that as a complaint? There's really not a whole lot going on."

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