CPD unveils new Virtual Ride Along program to engage with community members
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – The Chattanooga Police Department announced the creation of a Virtual Ride Along program as a way to increase community connection and inclusion.
The CPD Virtual Ride Along program was an idea CPD Officer Sydney Hamon initiated in her rookie year after noticing a disconnect between the community and local law enforcement.
“It was breaking the community apart. First it was COVID so as far as protocol went , getting in touch with people was different. Then the protests hit. Once protests started, no one wanted to talk with police. Everyone was talking at each other but no one was talking with each other. I believe that’s the only way to start change and create change is to stop talking and start listening,” says Officer Sydney Hamon, Chattanooga Police Department.
The Virtual Ride Along program allows community members to ride along with a CPD Officer-all from the comfort of their own home.
The officers volunteer for this service and designate the first 30 to 60 minutes of their shift.
“They will be able to sit there and talk about crime concerns, what’s going on in their community or neighborhoods. The officer can talk about what it’s like to be a Chattanooga police officer. But above all you get a member of our community with a member of their police department to sit down in a relaxed setting and just talk about what policing looks like here in Chattanooga,” says Chief David Roddy, Chattanooga Police.
The Virtual Ride Along program opens opportunities to members of the community who may not be able to- or have interest in- participating in a traditional ride along for various reasons such as mobility difficulties or increased anxiety about emergency situations.
“The small term goal is to make the citizens comfortable with knowing the police. Let’s say the next time you get pulled over because your tail light is out you get a little bit nervous, the cop walks up but then you roll down your window and ‘Oh Officer Hamon, I know you. I’ve met you before,'” says Officer Hamon.
How to sign up for a Virtual Ride Along:
Participants must have a Google account email address.
Email CPD Recruiting at email@example.com with your interest in participating.
Complete and submit paperwork.
A member of CPD’s Recruiting Unit offers scheduling options.
Log in to Google Hangout and virtually ride along with the CPD Officer.