Apple Valley (MN) Police Department
It can be difficult for some police departments to engage the public they serve. Community meetings and events sponsored by the department are fine, but nothing is better than meeting members of the public as they go about their daily business. Unfortunately, it is not easy for officers on patrol in suburban locales to casually interact with citizens in their community.
The city of Apple Valley, MN is just such, a suburban city. Predominantly residential, there are not a lot of built-in opportunities for officers to casually to interact with the people they serve. Feeling the need to do something unique to connect with their citizens, the Apple Valley Police Department (AVPD) recently bought a Polaris RANGER as a way to attract the public's attention and to enable officers to have more interactions with citizens.
According to Captain Nick Francis of the AVPD, "our primary focus with this (acquiring the RANGER) is community outreach and also response to emergencies in difficult locations." Apple Valley has an extensive park system that can sometimes be difficult to patrol. But the park system gives officers the chance to bring out their RANGER and use it to help community members connect with officers.
"This is definitely something we love to pull up in the park and have people – have kids – crawl in it, try the lights, and we're getting to areas where the public is," said Captain Francis. "Getting our officers out in the parks is a priority to us because the parks are a very important part of the city. And we want our residents to know we're going to be there keeping an eye on them and responding if they need us."
Captain Francis says he enjoys using the RANGER on the 4th of July and at other public events to help him control vehicle traffic and work in tight spaces with a lot of pedestrians in the area. It is more efficient than a traditional squad car in these situations and poses less of an accident risk when moving through a crowd.
To see the AVPD's vehicle and hear how they are using it, see their self-produced video on Twitter: