HAZARD – When Minor Allen was sworn in as the city of Hazard’s new police chief in January 2012, he had some ideas as to the direction he wanted to the department to go. Now, nearly a year into the job, Allen says overall he’s satisfied with that direction.
“Really, I’m very pleased with the way everything has happened this first year,” he said this week while also admitting that not everything has gone according to plan. “You’ve always got some steps forward and a few steps back on anything you do to learn from your mistakes.”
The department began the year visiting different neighborhoods in the city to hear from residents as to what concerns they may have had. Allen’s community initiative also resulted in the formation of a local public safety committee, consisting of several Hazard residents. The committee receives updates on crime rates in the city, and they can also relay information or updates to the department.
“When we started off, those meetings yielded a lot of information on those areas of town,” he said. “That’s where we started concentrating on.”
The committee is something that Allen said he expects to continue in 2013, and bringing this community initiative to the people wasn’t a hard sale for local residents, he continued, because these meetings gave them an outlet to discuss with officials the issues in their neighborhoods. “It was like they were waiting for an opportunity or chance to sit down and say this is what’s happened on my street,” he said.
Another area of concentration inside the department was continuing education and training. In 2012 officers graduated from accident reconstruction school and attended a national tactical officer course, while two officers also graduated from the Kentucky Criminalistics Academy.
“The more education and the more training they get, the more services you can provide,” Allen said. “We’ve always been an agency that has been pretty self-reliant.”
Though he noted that the department is still compiling data on 2012, Allen said he’s confident that the city’s crime rate and number of cases the department opened this year have gone down in the past 12 months. He cautioned that he wasn’t sure if that’s a statewide trend or just in the city, but locally he thinks it’s attributable to the feedback officials receive from the community.
“I think community involvement has been a big part in it,” he said. “They’ve really helped as far as coming in, and we’ve had a lot of success with these cases as a result of it.”
Though the crime rate may have decreased, the city’s number one issue in terms of law enforcement remains the local drug problem. Allen said the vast majority of all thefts in the city — somewhere in the neighborhood of 85 to 90 percent — are in some way related to the number of people addicted to drugs such as prescription narcotics.
But even still, Allen said by the time 2013 comes to a close, he’s hopeful that the city will continue to see some progress, both in the local crime rate and adding to the training and development of the department’s officers.
“We’re just going to continue on with what we’ve been doing, and we really appreciate all the support and help we’ve had from the community this year on different issues and initiatives that we’ve started,” he said. “I just appreciate any continued support that they can provide us.”