Fellsmere Police Department wins “Rocky Pomerance Excellence in Policing” award

A crime-prevention program that emphasizes the importance of partnerships between the community and its police department has earned Fellsmere the “Rocky Pomerance Excellence in Policing” award from the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

The award was presented at the organization’s summer training conference this week in Bonita Springs. The association presented 14 law enforcement awards to departments across the state. In addition to Fellsmere, officers from Indian River Shores’ Public Safety Department also were honored with “Police Officer of the Year” awards for a beach rescue last October.

It’s the second time Fellsmere has been recognized by the statewide police organization with the honor, which is given to small, medium and large agencies for developing and implementing innovative policing techniques. The award is named after the late Miami Beach Police Chief Rocky Pomerance.

“These awards demonstrate not only the breadth of the FPCA’s membership, but also the extreme talent and dedication of those members — to their communities, to their fellow law enforcement officers and to their state,” Coconut Creek Chief of Police Albert Arenal, president of the chiefs association, said in a news release.

The Fellsmere Police Department earned the award for its “Police Partners” program that began last April. About 60 community members attended the program, which stressed the importance of partnering with police as a way to reduce crime. A follow-up session will take place in October.

Police Chief Keith Touchberry said the goal of the “Police Partners” program is to enhance the community’s understanding of the police and the criminal justice system. It seeks to strengthen police relations and promote community participation, enhancing the quality of life within the community.

“People take an oath and pledge to partner with us,” Touchberry said. “We are working with local businesses to show the importance of collaboration.”

The “Police Partners” program was developed in response to President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which calls for transparency and accountability of police departments nationwide. The task force created a road map for future policing across the country and provides direction on how to build public trust.

Touchberry said Fellsmere is focusing on a strategy called PORT that teaches citizens how to protect themselves, obey the law, report crime and testify in court cases. Department members actively collaborate with families, churches, schools and youth groups to identify issues and develop solutions to increase citizen safety and security.