Officer Leslie Miller checks doors and businesses in an empty Oak Ridge parking lot
Law enforcement in one East Tennessee community is taking a new approach to an old skill in their efforts to prevent crime.
Oak Ridge Police Chief James Akagi says officers on the overnight shift are boosting patrol efforts to stay ahead of any trouble lurking after dark.
"We want to let people know we're out there. We want to let them know we're interested in what they're doing out in the wee hours of the morning, and we want to let them know we are there if they need us," Chief Akagi said.
The push started in September, after he and the deputy chief were discussing overnight activity on the force.
"On one night, we had 10 calls for service, and one of those calls for service was for a traffic stop. The others were all dispatch, meaning the officers were dispatched to a scene," he said. "And I started thinking about it, and I just thought we could do better."
For officers working the 7p.m. - 7a.m. shift, it meant using patrol skills they already knew, but simply adding more proactive measures.
"Self initiated traffic stops, self initiated checks of suspicious vehicles and persons, checking properties, it's nothing new," he listed. "We've been doing it for years."
Akagi says overnight activity has since jumped significantly, where 50 percent of dispatched calls are now self-initiated by the department.
"You can never measure what you prevent, but we can see results. We are finding more open doors, we are starting to see a drop in our burglaries, our residential and business burglaries, our auto burglaries. They are small signs."
He also wants to reassure the public that officials are still following procedure, and must show probable cause in order to initiate action.
"I don't want to paint a picture like it's bad after midnight, but sometimes people moving around after night in the wee hours of the morning aren't always up to the most reputable activity."