newspaper put me in contact with police officers on a weekly basis
and I learned a lot about them.
They are just like everyone else. They have families, they have
lives outside of the police department and the same things that
bother us, bother them.
Last week I went on a ride-along with two Huntington Beach police
officers. It was an eye-opening experience. Although Huntington Beach
is a relatively safe city, bad things still happen. That can be said
for any city. Regardless of how hard authorities try to stop each and
every crime from occurring, they can't -- it's impossible. But they
can come up with innovative programs to help fight crime and hire
police officers who truly want to make a difference.
Huntington Beach has done just that by establishing its
Neighborhood Enhancement Team and by making Officer Art Preece part
of that team.
The team targets problem areas in the city such as the Oakview
neighborhood. While some people might feel uncomfortable with the
fact that they would have to go into troubled neighborhoods on a
daily basis as part of their job, Preece enjoys it.
"This is the best detail in the department," he said of his job.
"It's not boring and there's a little bit of everything."
Preece is a big guy and cuts an imposing figure with a no-nonsense
attitude toward his work. He has an authoritative voice that lets you
know that he expects your full attention when he's speaking.
And attention is what he gets. As we drove through the Oakview
neighborhood everyone seemed to recognize him. Children waved and
adults knew his name. They knew him and he knew them. That's how it
should be in all cities. The six-man Neighborhood Enhancement Team
spends a majority of its time in Oakview. The team responds to 90% of
the calls that are made from there and it helps when investigations
take place, Preece said.
He is able to approach people that he knows can help him solve
cases. He can get answers more quickly than an officer who has never
been to the neighborhood.
He knows the neighborhood like the back of his hand and he knows
when something is out of place. He knows who belongs in the
neighborhood and who doesn't. He knows which gang members belong to