Tammy Mutasa, NBC 5 Garland Reporter
The Garland Police Department is moving officers around to put more feet on the streets without adding to their budget. Combining the gang and drug units and adding them to the neighborhood police program puts an additional 9 officers on the street.
The Garland Police Department is adding more officers to the streets without breaking the budget.
The department is expanding its Neighborhood Police Officer Unit from 17 officers and two lieutenants to 26 officers, three lieutenants and one captain.
Each police district in the city will have its own neighborhood police officer patrolling the streets and staying on high alert.
"What the officers are able to do is decrease response times for service," Lt. John Bennett said. "They are able to assist the citizens more quickly and solve problems that crop up within the neighborhoods."
Garland resident Christina Ford said having an extra set of eyes around town gives her peace of mind.
"I'm legally blind, actually, so it's always good to know that someone is probably watching out for me somewhere, close by," she said.
The department reshuffled existing resources to make the expansion possible. The Gang Unit and the Street Level Narcotics Units were merged with the Neighborhood Police Officer Unit to better enforce crime in Garland.
Officer Pedro Barineau has been part of the program for three years.
"We already deal with street-level narcotics as well as gang members on a regular basis," he said. "And by merging the narcotics and the gang unit into the unit, it allows us to work closer and to be more involved with the things that we already deal with on a daily basis."
The program aims to reduce crime and the fear of crime and eliminate the city's criminal element. Police will continue to work closely with crime watch groups, neighborhood associations and Garland residents with concerns about crime in their neighborhoods.
Garland police said overall crime is down. The department said it plans to add more officers to the streets to give them an extra push to keep it under control.
"They become familiar with the faces that are around there, and it's probably a lot easier for them to catch an unfamiliar person that maybe intending to cause a crime," Ford said.