Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) announced he will be introducing legislation to improve communication and engagement between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The Community OutPost (COP) Outreach and Engagement Act will establish a pilot program to promote the nationwide use of Community OutPosts as a means to help law enforcement engage and communicate with residents in their surrounding communities. Modeled after the successful outreach and engagement of the St. Cloud Police Department’s “COP House,” the Community OutPost (COP) Outreach and Engagement Act will provide federal resources to promote improved, community-focused engagement efforts.
A COP House is a residential home where nearby residents can receive critical services and build relationships with local law enforcement in that community. With improved police-citizen communication, officers can more effectively establish trust and build rapport with the citizens that they are sworn to protect.
“Interactions between law enforcement and the residents of their community should take place more than just during times of emergency,” said Emmer. “Having a COP House in St. Cloud has given residents a chance to have meaningful interactions with officers from their local police department, while providing officers with the opportunity to build relationships throughout the community. Through continued engagement and familiarity, we can improve the way we keep our communities safe.”
The Community OutPost (COP) Outreach and Engagement Act establishes a national pilot program for law enforcement, non-profit organizations, and critical care providers to jointly establish COP Houses in jurisdictions around the country. This community coalition can assess community needs, improve resident-law enforcement engagement, and provide access to health and wellness services. The program will be overseen by Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office within the Department of Justice and will be required to produce a series of reports and metrics to monitor the effectiveness of the effort.
Building off of a model implemented by law enforcement in Racine, Wisconsin, the first COP House in Minnesota was established in St. Cloud in 2017. This effort is a partnership between the St. Cloud Police Department, Mayo Ambulance, CentraCare Health and Stearns County Social Services. Congressman Emmer assisted with the procurement of the home, which hosts community events such as English language programs, back-to-school events, dental & breastfeeding clinics, legal office hours, and kids’ activities.
Strategically located, COP Houses are an effective way to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the surrounding community and reduce crime.
Read more about the Community OutPost (COP) Outreach and Engagement Act here.