You have to genuinely want to help and treat people like you want them to treat your mama.Sgt. James Woodcock, Springfield Police Department
SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Police Department hands out more than citations for various offenses. It dispenses high fives and handshakes, too.
Led by Chief Paul Wynn, Springfield Police Department officers are determined to build relationships that will help them keep the community safe.
“The chief here is probably the biggest I’ve seen on community policing,” Sgt. James Woodcock said. “We try to spend a lot more time talking and going into businesses, and walking in the neighborhoods and talking to the kids at the bus stop. Those are the people who help us.
“We do the legwork but, if you don’t have the citizens on your side, you just can’t do anything. If people don’t want to talk to you, if they don’t believe in you or you didn’t help them when they needed help, why are they going to help you now? You’ve got to help them all the time.”
The department’s relationship-building efforts start with children.
“We’ve been more involved with (Springfield Elementary School),” Woodcock said. “We’ve started going up there and helping with unloading kids (in the mornings) and loading them up (in the afternoons) once or twice a month. We are doing more walkthroughs and being more visible up there.”
School appearances give officers a chance to prove to students that they are a valuable friend and not an adversary. They were invited into the school by administrators.
“I enjoy it,” APO Amelia Smith said recently while helping tiny students carrying book bags exit their parents’ vehicle.
Smith got a few high fives and a hug as students headed to class.
“They treat me like a rock star when I take my car behind the school,” she joked.
In addition to Wynn, Woodcock and Smith, the Springfield Police Department includes APO Nicholas Cavanah, APO Clinton Easton, Officer Charles Bond and Officer Mike Adams. The department has two vacancies.
Woodcock said the department is willing to help worthy candidates receive the proper training and certification.
“If you are in the Police Academy, we will start paying you and pick you up if the interview and all goes well,” he said. “We will take non-certified applications and, if we like you, will pay you to go through the academy at our expense instead of yours.”
There is one crucial quality that Springfield Police Department candidates must possess, Woodcock said.
“(A good police officer) is someone who genuinely cares,” he said. “You have to have good morals and you have to care about people. You have to genuinely want to help and treat people like you want them to treat your mama.
“It’s a lot more than running and gunning, and fighting and tazing.”
The department is accepting applications. They can be sent to Wynn at PWynn@springfieldga or Woodcock at email@example.com. The department’s phone number is 912-754-3061.
Woodcock and Smith agreed that the members of the Springfield Police Department are like a family and desire to be embedded in the community.
“We all get along and there is no drama,” Woodcock said. “Everybody is a team player. I want to make Adams a better officer and he wants to make me a better officer.
“It goes like that all the way through from the bottom up to the top down. I like it a lot.”
The Springfield Police Department’s responsibilities are constantly growing. Through annexation, a new church and recreational facility were recently added to its jurisdiction. The Effingham Health System also falls under its domain.
The Springfield Police Department works with other agencies to combat crime. In conjunction with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office, it helped remove several drug dealers from the streets in 2018.
It also has its own training officer (Adams) that it makes available to other departments in the area.