The Bedford Police Department is introducing “public service officers” (PSOs) who will be tasked with handling the department’s “lower-priority” calls in an attempt to allow officers to focus on reducing crime.
The department announced the new step in a Facebook post on Tuesday, explaining that PSOs are needed to support the daily enforcement of its patrol division.
Lower priority calls for services, such as reporting thefts, criminal mischief, and parking violations, will be handled by PSOs. They will also assist uniformed patrol officers on active crime and accident scenes.
In its announcement, the Bedford PD further explained that creating the PSO position would allow officers to focus on more proactive matters. If they do not have to attend to non-in-progress, low-priority issues, Bedford police officers can be available to identify and discourage criminal behavior before it happens.
Police Chief Jeff Williams said that PSOs would be hired in a process similar to other civilian police employees.
The process will begin with an application submitted through the city of Bedford Human Resources website. An interview will follow this to ensure that a candidate does not have an automatic disqualifier, such as a criminal history or drug usage.
A more comprehensive background investigation will then be conducted on candidates who pass the initial interview stage. After that, a panel will interview them to determine their ability to function in the policing space.
The last step in the recruitment process entails a psychological and physical examination to determine whether a candidate is mentally and physically prepared to handle the position and the demands that come with it.
Williams said that the PSOs do not have the power to make arrests, but they have some enforcement capabilities and will be armed with an expandable baton or taser. In situations where they cannot escape an assailant, they can use their weapons in self-defense to protect themselves.
The PSOs will drive marked Bedford Public Service vehicles and serve as another visible law enforcement presence in the community.