The Chattanooga Police Department in Tennessee announced the creation of their Virtual Ride Along Program as a way to increase community engagement and inclusion.
The program allows members of the community to ride along with a CPD officer at the beginning of their shift from the comfort of their own homes. During the 30 minute-to-an-hour ride, community members can ask questions or share their concerns about anything they wish with the officer. They can also get more familiar with police policies and practices, or just have a friendly conversation.
CPD Officer Sydney Hamon created the program in her rookie year that friends on social media friends were spending a lot of time talking at each other, but not listening to one another.
“I believe the way to start change, to create change is to stop talking and start listening and keep an open mind,” Hamon said.
Hamon also hopes that the program will allow members of the community to meet police officers in a less stressful environment.
Chief David Roddy said in an announcement: “Virtual conversations are a new way for CPD Officers and community members to build relationships. I am proud of the work Officer Hamon put into creating this innovative program which is more inclusive for those who are unable to participate in CPD’s existing, established program.”
CPD says the Virtual Ride Along allows for more opportunities for community members to participate who may not want to take part in a traditional ride along for a few reasons, whether it’s due to mobility reasons, anxiety when in an emergency situation, or they don’t have the time.
The CPD hopes the program will be helpful to those interested in pursuing a career as a police officer, and will be a great way to connect with the community through a new medium.
According to NewsChannel9, Virtual Ride Along conversations are recorded and stored on Evidence.com servers for up to 90 days.