Though many communities have made dramatic changes to their Public Safety Departments during the pandemic, Shelton Haynes knows that in community policing, it’s vital that everyone is heard and that their concerns are aired. That’s one of the reasons why Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) hosts monthly meetings so that everyone in the community has an opportunity to talk about issues that are becoming problematic in the small island community. As the pandemic has wound down, communication and activities with Public Safety Department (PSD) officers present are becoming much more common on the small island in the East River, nestled between Manhattan and Queens.
Communication is a staple for Shelton Haynes.
As the PSD returns to its original model of having officers involved in community activities, Shelton Haynes knows that this community engagement will help keep the peace officers approachable to the island’s residents. Featuring a department of 50 with 10 officers in leadership and the remaining 40 patrolling the island, Haynes is keeping communication at the forefront. “I can honestly say – and this sounds a little cliche, but it’s the actual truth – it’s communication,” Haynes stated recently. “Communication is a staple.”
Keeping Lines of Communication Open
To keep communications open, the PSD is going to be expanding monthly meetings focused on the community. Fostered by members of the RIOC, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, store owners, commercial tenants, residents, the PSD, and the NYPD, the meetings are a forum where collaboration can be leveraged to find smart answers to community concerns, developing cooperative solutions to issues facing the island. “The ongoing monthly meetings are so meaningful,” Shelton Haynes brings up. “A store owner may have an issue, as will the residents. Why not bring them together and figure out the challenge together? Why not have productive discussions with the stakeholders in the room to discuss challenges and workable solutions? Having everyone on the same page is essential.”
Shelton Haynes knows that situations fall apart once communications fall apart. Lack of communication can be a problem, so getting people together can help improve communication to stop the problem in its tracks. This proactive approach that is more common in the business world than in government is one Haynes embraces, stating, “We want to make sure we bring things to the forefront and make everyone part of the conversation and the solution.”
Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Puts Saftey First
RIOC also invites local elected officials to the meetings. As a public benefit corporation operating under the governor and New York state purview, the corporation foments a close relationship between local elected officials, assembly members, senators, council members, and the Public Safety Department. This allows everyone to be on the same page when making decisions that can impact the community on the island. This allows the community’s concerns to be addressed actively. “Our community engagement sessions have been a pivotal component because it promotes accountability of how we are doing, as well as awareness of developing issues,” Haynes states.