My City Magazine caught up with Flint Police Chief James Tolbert on Tuesday in honor of National Police Week. He had some appreciative things to say about how people in the city are coming together to improve Flint.
Q: Chief Tolbert, what do you love about the City of Flint?
A: I see the spirit of people who are embracing the communities and are working to get involved. It’s not incumbent upon one individual or one elected official. It’s a synergy of all the organizations, communities, politicians and civil servants who come together with a focus to do whatever we have to do to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Flint – and to improve the quality of life for businesses, students and visitors to the city.
Q: What positive things are you seeing in Flint’s neighborhoods?
A: We have had a good response from the neighborhood associations and those who are part of the citizens’ radio patrol. They patrol their neighborhoods with radios and report suspicious activity. The citizens’ radio patrol is fueled by the community in which it operates. We are looking to expand that to other community groups and neighborhoods in the coming year.
Q: How is this program getting better?
A: We received a Ruth Mott Foundation grant and are using that to purchase magnetic signs and flashing amber lights for volunteers’ vehicles, radios, vests and the equipment that they need to set them apart.
Q: What do you see as the impact from these neighborhood programs?
A: You have a sense of safety in the community. A perpetrator will know that person is stepping up and will not condone that activity in their neighborhood. We have hundreds of volunteers involved in the Blue Badge Program.
Q: Are there any new developments the department is working on to help these communities?
A: Yesterday, we opened a new community center at Dort and Atherton in the Dort Mall. Community volunteers are trained how to take reports and neighborhood mediation issues will be addressed there. An officer is assigned to the area. It’s going to be a hub of activity supported by the Police Department.