Valdosta police starting new neighborhood walk initiative to get into community

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 14, 2019

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- The Valdosta Police Department is knocking on doors in an attempt to knock down barriers as the department starts a new neighborhood walk initiative this week.

There have been a number of new initiatives over the last few months to get the police department more involved in the community, and to get people within the community working with each other more. The neighborhood walk is the newest installment of the effort to make communities a little bit safer.

On Monday, almost a dozen officers walked through District Four to meet with residents and learn about any safety concerns they may have.

"If the community doesn't trust their police department, they're not going to help us out. We cannot solve crimes without the community," said Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan. "When people live in a community and they see something, they know what's awkward, or something that stands out and looks suspicious to them. It might not look suspicious to police, but people who actually live in the community see things, and we're trying to get people where they're comfortable telling us things."

After stepping in earlier this year, Chief Manahan has prioritized strengthening community relationships.

"I think you need to know your law enforcement. I think you need to have a relationship with them and not just when bad things happen," said resident Medora Lawson. "Any time you've seen a policeman, it's because something that's happened. Yesterday, it was because they wanted to know if we have any concerns and was there anything that we needed them to do for us."

A lot of residents, like Lawson, are embracing the involvement.

The department says one of the concerns they heard a lot from residents in District Four was drivers going too fast, especially when kids are around. In response, VPD says it plans to have more patrols in the area, as well as reach out to city engineers to ask about additional speed studies.

The police department hopes to walk every district in Valdosta in the next few months.