he Neighborhood Emergency Assistance Team (Neat) program in Taylor Mill is a community partnership where citizen volunteers are trained to assist the police department in the event of large-scale incidents, such as tornados, floods, missing children searches, plane crashes, or acts of terrorism. Today, the Neat program has expanded to include community events such as festivals and other community activities.
Formed in spring 2005, this program has already been honored as an outstanding crime prevention project by the Kentucky Crime Prevention Coalition. Lieutenant Ron Wilson, who is primarily responsible for the creation of the Neat program, was awarded the outstanding crime prevention officer of the year, as well.
The Neat program goes beyond the traditional citizen police academy. In the academy program participants learn about law enforcement but not how to help law enforcement in a time of crisis in the community. Taylor Mill, like most police departments, would be overwhelmed in the time of a large crisis. But citizens trained to help police during a crisis are a force multiplier. The Neat program provides the police department additional resources to respond to man-made incidents and natural disasters. Citizens have been taught how to assist the police and how to better serve the community.
The Neat program is based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community Emergency Response (CERT), which educates people about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace after a disaster and can take a more active role in preparing their community.
The mission statement of the program is simple: "The Neighborhood Emergency Assistance Team renders aid to citizens affected by traumatic situations while working in conjunction with the Taylor Mill Police Department to resolve the crisis and provide safety for those involved."
The Neat program's seven-week training sessions include traffic control, search and rescue, perimeter protection, first aid, and CPR. Communications, specifically dealing with answering calls to Amber Alert tip lines during public events are taught, and the fire department trains in fire suppression techniques. The program also instructs in psychological first aid to help deal with victims of disaster. The different psychological stages that disaster victims experience are taught, along with the proper response for each stage.
The Neat program works closely with the Neighborhood Watch program. Residents and trained watch volunteers provide valuable information to the police that assists in investigations and arrests. Many of the same individuals involved in the block watch program also are involved in Neat.
The Taylor Mill Police Department is composed of nine sworn officers, resources and personnel are often limited, especially in difficult situations. Disasters, and even special events, can often be taxing on a small department, but the citizens can assist and relieve law enforcement personnel. The proactive nature of Neat works well in smaller communities by helping people to help themselves and ease the demand on stretched police services.
The Taylor Mill Police Department is active in crime prevention because of the benefits it receives from implementing the philosophy. In addition to the Neat program, the agency also has the Because We Care program. The Kentucky League of Cities gave its President's Award of Excellence to this program for 1998. The program is designed to offer assistance to elderly, physically impaired, or shut-in residents. It is intended to reduce the response time in the event an emergency has occurred, and to help prevent crimes such as assault and fraud on the elderly or those living with limitations. The police department has a telephone line with a recorder for Care program participants. Every day, on all weekends and holidays, Care members call in between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and noon. If the department has not heard from the member by noon, a police officer will call their residence. If the officer is unsuccessful in contacting the member, an officer will respond to the residence to check on the welfare of the participant. The program is free of charge and allows both officer and participant to work as a team to enhance the quality of life within the community. ■
For more information about the Neat program or the Because We Care program, please call Lieutenant Ron Wilson of Taylor Mill Police Department at 859-581-1192.