By Amber Jenkins
The Bartlett Police Department operates under the stout creed of working tirelessly to keep the citizens of Bartlett and anyone passing through our fair town, safe. Plain and simple, the safety of the public they serve is their number one priority.
The Bartlett PD is comprised of several units, each with their own duties and sectors. Captain Marlon Jones explains there are five units that make up the uniformed division. These include the Crime Suppression Unit, Traffic Unit, K9 Unit, Bicycle Officers and Patrolmen.
The patrolmen are the uniformed division of officers who respond to calls from the dispatch unit at the police station. They are the ones responding to domestic disturbances, thefts, assaults and other criminal acts in our neighborhoods and business districts. Once that 911 call goes through, these are some of the first men and women on the scene. These officers also enforce traffic laws, investigate motor vehicle crashes and make arrests.
Although other units may respond to traffic incidents, it is the primary responsibility of the Traffic Unit to handle these investigations. The unit is comprised of several officers in marked police cars as well as motorcycle officers. The men and women working in this unit also teach traffic safety as well as proper installation of child safety seats. According to Captain Jones, this unit is very aggressive when it comes to traffic safety.
“Their goals are to reduce the amount of injuries and/or deaths as it relates to traffic crashes,” Jones said in a press release.
To answer the public’s question of why the department is so aggressive when it comes to traffic laws, Jones explained:
“This is because we believe in what is known as the broken window theory. We believe that aggressive enforcement of all laws, including traffic, blends into the suppression of all types of criminal activity. We believe that the enforcement of minor crime suppresses the escalation of more serious crime.”
Although heavily cracking down on traffic violations, the Bartlett PD has been known to give someone a break from time to time. In 2012, the department wrote approximately 17,000 traffic tickets and 12,000 warning tickets. The amount of verbal warnings officers gave motorists isn’t documented, but Jones estimates it is in the thousands as well.
Police officers are given discretion as to whether or not to ticket someone who has violated a traffic law. The U.S. Supreme Court has decreed that all police officers do have a choice in writing a ticket or not. The decision is completely up to the individual officer, and is not influenced by anything except his or her own good judgment.
The K9 Unit is a small one, utilizing three officers who are certified K9 handlers. Their primary duties are responding to scenes where a building may need to be searched, or where the police suspect narcotics or explosive devices are in place/use. The K9 units are clearly marked on their vehicles’ rear windows and doors. The Bartlett PD also employs bicycle officers to patrol local parks and shopping centers. They help prevent property damage and theft.
Lastly, there is the Crime Suppression Unit, whose primary duties are to respond to areas where there has been a pattern of the same type of crime. These officers drive unmarked cars to aid them in their investigations. They may blanket an area to find leads on suspects, apprehend suspected criminals and show an increased presence in a certain area in an effort to suppress criminal activity.
Captain Jones states that a “strong officer presence, combined with aggressive enforcement of the laws, reduces and/or suppresses our crime.”