Ames Police Department encourages students to use Safe Neighborhood Team as resource

Torey Robinson

ISU students can expect to see new faces in the neighborhood this semester — and they’re not the new neighbors. The Ames Police Department launched a Safe Neighborhood Team to increase community communication and increase safety. 

Ames Police originally developed a Party Response Team to monitor house parties and gatherings in the Campustown area before they got out of hand, Ames Police Chief Chuck Cychosz said. Officers focused on early interactions with ISU students living in apartment complexes to establish an understanding of local ordinances and property regulations.

“It was pretty successful,” Cychosz said. “I think students were pretty responsive to those early contacts. If a party did get out of hand, students were quick to call themselves — which prevented a citation for them, generally.”

The Safe Neighborhood Team, put into effect Jan. 1, hopes to execute similar techniques used by the Party Response Team, but on a larger scale.

Cychosz said the team will base its priorities by the areas that get the most calls.

“Campustown typically shows up in that mix, and we know bar close is a busy time,” he said. “I’d expect a strong showing there. There are times when Campustown is quiet and we get a lot of calls from other areas. This team will move to where the demand is in Ames.”

The Safe Neighborhood Team will be led by Sgt. Howard Snider and will sport a vehicle different than typical Ames Police cars to signify the specific function of the unit. 

Ames Police encourage students to make an effort to get to know the officers patrolling their neighborhood or apartment building. 

“If students see those officers, they should take a moment to greet them and introduce themselves — it may pay dividends,” Cychosz said. “We see so much vandalism, property theft, bicycle theft — crimes that are preventable in this community.

“We get folks in that don’t realize some of the ordinances [Ames] has, and that’s where our officers will be out there to educate and let people know,” Ames Police Cmdr. Jim Robinson said.

Noise complaints are a primary neighborhood call police receive from residents and students alike. Robinson said he hopes the team will be able to help reduce the amount of complaints.

“Our officers can get out and actually help set the noise level at parties,” Robinson said. “The neighbors appreciate that, and it may prevent a citation for the party host.”

But more serious crimes — including car burglary and property theft — are concerns in neighborhoods that Cychosz said the unit’s flexibility will help combat. 

“This is the type of team that has the ability to shift hours to when they are needed,” Cychosz said. “They can adapt to specific challenges in the community, and we should be able to respond more effectively.”

“The whole focus of this is problem solving,” said Ames Police Lt. Geoff Huff. “We want to help our residents and students help us by keeping communication lines open. Knowing your neighbors and knowing the officers can keep your neighborhood safer.”