ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando's new police chief is launching a new initiative to introduce new officers to members of the community.
Officer Orlando Roman doesn't start patrolling the streets until Monday, but he is already establishing himself in the community. He is one of several recruits participating in Chief Orlando Rolon's new initiative across the city that connects new officers with the community.
"It's a great opportunity for not only me to understand my city, but for me to understand what I need to focus on as a new officer," Roman said.
Rolon's initiative is for officers to have a more personal touch with the community they serve, as well as hearing straight from the community about issues and challenges each area faces.
On Friday morning, Roman met with Gene Thatcher to talk about her concerns in the Lake Nona community. She helped start the Laurette Park Neighborhood Watch program.
Thatcher said she is worried about crimes of opportunity, like vehicle burglaries and porch pirates.
She adds by letting new officers know the community's concerns before they start serving, the officers can make the city safer.
"I think it's really important to build that trust and that sense of community with the police," Thatcher said. "This forum is so important because we want a safe community to live in and the officers want a safe community to patrol and live in as well."
Both add that the public's perception of the police isn't always the best, saying people only tend to interact with law enforcement officers during traffic stops or crimes. They hope this initiative can change that.
"We get to be proactive in how we decide how our relationship is with the citizens and how the citizens' relationship is with us," Roman said.
Police officials said they are testing the new initiative and the chief hopes he can continue to do this with new officers.