Norwich Police Sgt. Jennifer Frank began her shift the other afternoon by breaking into a car on Elm Street. It’s okay. The owner had locked herself out.
“Thank you so so much,” the owner said, standing in the snow in her driveway as Frank worked a long metal rod behind the window and jabbed at the lock switch.
“Oh, don’t thank me yet,” Frank answered. Twice her jabs relocked the car. Finally, the right thunk. Frank opened the door, reached inside to grab the keys -- and triggered the horn alarm. She silenced it by starting the car.
“Thank you so so much!” said the owner.
It was the first of five back-to-back calls that began Frank’s shift -- and in her mind, the beginning of one more relationship. Because building those relationships, she said, is the heart of community policing. You can’t succeed without engagement and trust.
“I’m a counselor,” she said. “I’m an educator. Sometimes I provide some disciplinary redirection to individuals. Sometimes I’m a parent. Sometimes I’m just someone to talk to. Because a lot of times, the individuals you go to deal with, they just need to be heard.”
The next call brought her to Fogg’s Hardware & Building Supply. Earlier that day, the manager had discovered an empty package of heavy duty snips while restocking shelves. He reviewed security camera footage until he found the moment they were stolen, a month earlier.
“It always amazes me that people are willing to throw away their integrity for $20,” Frank said as they watched the video together. The manager ran it forward until the thief stood at the checkout counter while his companion paid for a different item.
“Wait!” Frank said. “Play that back.” Sure enough, at the counter the thief had slipped a phone charger cable into his pocket too.
The manager had missed that. “You’re good,” he told her. “Ain’t your first day.”
“I’ll do a facial recognition match to ID him,” she said as the manager downloaded the video.
Resolving even a case like this, she said, can be a matter of relationships. Before seeking an arrest warrant, she’d place a call to the suspect.
“A lot of these people will come in and talk,” she said. “Try to get it resolved.”
Read more about Sgt. Frank here: