As activists around the country look for oversight of their local police departments, many officers have been retooling and looking to better engage with their communities.
The transformation can be seen in the viral videos popping up around the country of officers showing up to neighborhood picnics to meet kids, or playing pickup basketball.
Along those same lines, the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) has been live-tweeting the heck out of everything Santa Cruz for the last week. The department’s social media team was in full force at Santa Cruz’s 150th anniversary celebration on Main Beach on Saturday, sharing pictures of tourists posing with cops and cute little tikes climbing on police ATVs.
And the night before, on Friday, Sept. 30, SCPD held a virtual ride—or as it was called on Twitter, #ridewithSCPD. The event played out like a slower, small-town episode of Cops, one composed of pictures and also a few 10-second videos.
In addition to age-old lessons like “crime doesn’t pay,” the feed offered adages like “be more careful in the future,” about making sure there’s an emergency before calling 911.
SCPD also just launched an online survey for those who live or work in Santa Cruz. Officers hope to gain insight into the issues that impact the community from the anonymous questionnaire, which takes about 10 minutes. It asks questions about how safe people perceive the city to be, what they think about SCPD’s image and what the major public safety issues facing the community are.
For more information on the survey, visit cityofsantacruz.com/departments/police.
Open Streets rolls back into Santa Cruz on Sunday for its fourth year, shutting down West Cliff Drive for bikes, pedestrians, roller skaters and the like. On Sunday, Oct. 9 the event will close two miles of the street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It is a free community event that encourages sustainable transportation and healthy communities,” says Bike Santa Cruz County outreach coordinator Janneke Lang.
Open Streets, the so-called “pop-up park” started in 2012 as its own thing—the brainchild of Saskia Lucas—and came under Bike Santa Cruz County’s wing this year.
Lang encourages people to also come out for the nearby Welcome Back Monarch Day happening at Natural Bridges State Beach, and Open Studios Art Tour, which has stops on the Westside—both happening that same day.
Watsonville hosted an Open Streets event of its own in 2015, and Lang says organizers would love to bring it back to South County next year, but they’re looking for funding. The city of Santa Cruz is a major sponsor for the Westside’s Open Streets event.
Visit scopenstreets.org for more information.