Citizens and Police … Friendship Through Education

The Houston Police Department has had a Community Service Division since the 1970s when a group of citizens requested a presentation on a crime prevention topic. Back then, they would send one of their officers to the group and advise them what they could do to keep from becoming recurrent crime victims. This is proactive policing. In 1982, the patrol division came up with the idea citizens also need to know more about their police department before a crime occurred in their neighborhood, and from this idea came the concept of the Positive Interaction Program or “PIP.”
A police agency can be very confusing to citizens. The Positive Interaction Program holds monthly meetings featuring speakers from different divisions (e.g., Burglary and Theft, Homicide, K-9, Helicopters, etc.) explaining how each respective division operates. This is done so citizens will know what to expect, should they ever need the police. It entails the following:
  • A presentation from a different police division or law enforcement agency each month. You may hear what a judge, district attorney, state prison warden, or a county boot camp director has to say about what they are doing to fight crime.
  • A chance to meet the officers that patrol your neighborhood and get to know them on a first name basis. You even hear from the Captain of your sub-station. (This is the person that can tell you what your station will be doing in the future.)
  • Each month a different person is chosen to ride with a police officer on an actual tour of duty. At the next month’s meeting, you’ll get to hear from the “citizen-rookie” about his or her experience.
  • Crime statistics are given out at the end of each monthly meeting. There are seven categories of crimes listed, each including the date, time, block address, and type of location where the crime occurred. The PIP Crime Statistics are also available on the Internet.
  • After each formal meeting, a second, informal meeting is held – usually with refreshments! You’ll have an opportunity to talk to other citizens attending the meeting with you and may find commonalities which include¬† ideas on how to help solve your neighborhood issues.
  • Lots of other things happen at PIP meetings: citizens give crime tips, members may collect food for the hungry in their community or raise money for scholarships. The PIP group may honor an officer for outstanding work in the area, and being invited to a meeting with the chief is not uncommon. Note: You must be a member of a division PIP group to be eligible to attend the Citywide PIP meeting.

Remember, PIP does not send an officer out to your group. Your civic association should send your neighborhood residents to the police station for the civic PIP meeting.

Growth of “PIP”
Since its pilot program in 1983 at one sub-station, PIP has grown considerably. There are now thirty city-wide PIP groups that meet monthly. Not all are civic association PIP’s. There are now apartment, business, school, and even a deaf and hard of Hearing PIP groups. Some PIP groups meet during lunch, at night and even at breakfast. All have the same purpose: to learn more about their police department. Educating Houston’s citizens on the function of the police department is essential to the PIP program. Once a citizen understands how the police department does its job, that citizen can better relay to the police department their neighborhood needs.The free flow of information and ideas gives both parties better understanding of needs and expectations. This fosters trust and friendship between citizens and the police department. Cooperation between the Houston Police Department and the citizens is imperative in the reduction of crime, which enhances the overall quality of life,

For more information on PIP and how to get involved contact:

Officer James Sobota, Citywide “PIP” Coordinator
Voice 713.308.9079 / TTY 713.908.9071 / Fax 713.308.9073
James.Sobota@houstonpolice.org
Interpreter and Captioning provided

Divisional PIP meeting locations/other useful information:

Meeting Locations

Multi-family Administrative Unit