Community Policing

Jeff O’Dell

Chief of Police

Kissimmee Police Department

 

The Kissimmee Police Department is taking a multi-faceted approach to reaffirming the credibility of law enforcement within our community. We have begun a number of strategies focused on building relationships with the citizens we serve. Under the premise you cannot influence behavior without establishing a relationship, a “Community Contact” initiative began in September 2016. We asked every member of the agency to take advantage of opportunities to interact with the community in a positive setting. During our officers’ routine daily travels, when they see someone outside playing with the kids, mowing the lawn, washing the car, etc. they get out of their vehicle, introduce himself or herself, and just have a conversation. Traditionally, most of law enforcement’s interactions with the public are a result of being called during a time of need, generally involving a negative circumstance. The community contacts allow for KPD to begin building relationships while emphasizing our human side to the public. We began tracking these contacts on October 11, 2016. To date, the Kissimmee Police Department has generated over 5100 community contacts.

We have also created several opportunities to bring police officers together with young people. Our goal is to establish positive interactions with children and young adults. We have partnered with Books a Million to hold several “Cookies and Milk with Cops” events, where police officers read books and share time with young children. Another initiative directed at children is “Breaking the Barriers”, where we team up with children who frequent a local recreation center and play. We organized two “Conversations with Cops” events focused on young people ages 12-21. There is no agenda besides open conversations among the groups. We place some of our youngest officers together with these young people for conversation and understanding.

Lastly, we turned our focus to our law enforcement personnel. When studying incidents both locally and nationally, an obvious trend emerged where the agency determined the officers acted inappropriately during incidents. The trend involved one or more officers present and acting as a bystander while witnessing the improper conduct of another officer. The Kissimmee Police Department made a decision to be proactive against allowing “bystander” conduct during these types of incidents. The Department has developed a training regime focused on peer intervention during these situations. Our Training Staff has created live training scenarios with a situation where the role player starts to/crosses the line of appropriate behavior either verbally or physically. We are providing the officers with intervention techniques to de-escalate the situation, and requiring their active intervention during the scenario.   From the Chief of Police to the newest sworn member of the agency, permission is given to allow anyone to intervene of your behalf; this means an officer can tell a captain that he is acting inappropriately, without facing discipline for intervening. The taught techniques are not only simple, but are designed in a way that will not embarrass the involved officer, call attention to the situation, or detract from officer safety practices. There has been a tremendous amount of buy-in by our personnel, as this is an opportunity to potentially save an officer’s career and most definitely save our credibility within our community.

Chief O’Dell served with the Orlando Police Department for 27 years before retiring in 2013. He has worked many assignments throughout his 27-year career, including Patrol, Neighborhood Patrol Unit, Undercover and Uniform Drug Enforcement Units, Intelligence Unit, Bike Patrol Unit, Field Training and Recruiting Unit, Violent Crimes Investigations, and Commanded the Criminal Investigations, Special Operations, Airport, and Crime Prevention Divisions. Chief O’Dell served as the Emergency Response Team Commander for three years and on the Orlando Police Department SWAT team for more than 18 years, holding every position from entry team member to Team Commander. Chief O’Dell was hired by the Kissimmee Police Department as the Deputy Chief on January 2, 2013, and was appointed to Chief of Police on August 10, 2016.