Community engagement is a top priority for the Paducah Police Department. Officer-led community policing initiatives create opportunities for the community to come together with the department. Building a trusting, open, and transparent partnership shows the true needs of the community. There are many opportunities to communicate with us and learn how we can work together.
Community Engagement Officer
The Paducah Police Department has an officer assigned to liaise between the department and the community and citizens it serves. The Community Engagement Officer makes presentations to community groups and organizations with the goal of increasing awareness about the resources our department has to offer to the community. To ask a question, contact the Police Department at 270-444-8548 or email Community Engagement Officer Blake Quinn.
The Paducah Police Department hosts several different participation initiatives for children, teenagers, and adults. These programs involve active participation and give members of the community an opportunity to learn more about the Paducah Police Department.
- Citizens' Police Academy and Junior CPA
Citizen's Police Academy and the Junior Citizen's Police Academy are annual programs available to adults and children. These programs aim to give community members a greater understanding of the Paducah Police Department and its operations through interactive demonstrations and scenarios. The Volunteers in Police Services (VIPS) Program is available for adults after completing Citizen's Police Academy. VIPS commonly help the department during special events in the community. Explorer Post 111 gives teenagers with an interest in law enforcement an opportunity to learn the basics of police work and compete against other Explorer Programs.
- Coffee with a Cop
During Coffee with a Cop, Paducah Police officers and community members come together in an informal, neutral space to discuss community issues, build relationships, and drink coffee. Everyone is invited to attend. Please contact the Police Department with questions at 270-444-8548.
Importance of Coffee with a Cop Coffee with a Cop is a national initiative supported by The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Coffee with a Cop provides a unique opportunity for community members to ask questions and learn more about the department’s work in Paducah’s neighborhoods. The hope is that community members will feel comfortable to ask questions, bring concerns, or simply get to know the officers. These interactions are the foundation of community partnerships. The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public happen during emergencies, or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective times for relationship building with the community, and some community members may feel that officers are unapproachable on the street. Coffee with a Cop breaks down barriers and allows for a relaxed, one-on-one interaction.
- DARE Program for Youth
The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program is a 10-week curriculum taught in 5th grade at all the city elementary schools as well as St. Mary Elementary School. Several officer instructors divide the responsibility of teaching the classes. In 2021, the program was introduced into Paducah Middle School.
The D.A.R.E. program has been around since the mid-1980’s and has undergone several major curriculum overhauls to stay current and relevant to the changing world. The current curriculum is 10 weeks of instruction focusing on good decision-making skills and ways to prevent, avoid, or respond to situations that involve drugs, alcohol, bullying, or other dangerous situations. The D.A.R.E. program also provides supplemental lessons to kindergarten-4th grade, on personal safety and conflict resolution.
The D.A.R.E. program is supported financially by the Paducah Police Department. Teaching materials and rewards are purchased each year for students. In the following video, Officer Gretchen Morgan talks about our local D.A.R.E. program. In 2021, 265 students graduated from the D.A.R.E. program. Also, the officers held many visits with students in kindergarten through 4th grades.
Paducah-McCracken County Drug Council
If you are interested in financially supporting the D.A.R.E. program by donating to the Paducah-McCracken County Drug Council, contact Officer Chris Fearon. The Paducah-McCracken County Drug Council is a non-profit organization that supports the D.A.R.E. and G.R.E.A.T. programs. The council was created in 1992 to provide an avenue for businesses and individuals to donate funds to support drug and alcohol resistance programs at local schools. In May 2013, the Paducah-McCracken County Drug Council sponsored a golf scramble which raised $3000 to help pay for t-shirts, certificates, and other program materials.
- GREAT Program for Youth
Officer Travis Counts teaches the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program at Paducah Middle School. The nation-wide program started in 1992 with the mission of preventing youth crime, violence, and gang involvement. The curriculum focuses on decision-making and refusal skills toward drugs, gang involvement, and other dangerous/criminal situations. The program addresses how to deal effectively with peer pressure and works with kids on goal planning.
- Interacting with Law Enforcement
In April 2015, the Paducah Police Department created the card You and the Law, Guidelines for Interacting with Law Enforcement. This card provides information about interacting with law enforcement. Its purpose is to be informative and to provide a starting point for discussions. If you or your organization would like a presentation and discussion session regarding information on the card, please contact the Police Department at 270-444-8548.
In the following video, Paducah Police Chief Brandon Barnhill (now retired) discusses how to make each interaction between an officer and citizen informative and positive.
- Law Enforcement Exploring Program for Youth
The Paducah Police Department's Law Enforcement Exploring Program, known as Explorer Post 111, is designed for young people, ages 14-20, who are interested in a policing career. Participants should have a strong desire to learn more about policing and be willing to make a serious commitment since the program meets regularly throughout the year.
Explorer Post 111 meets every Monday 6:30 - 9 p.m. at the Police Department. Each week the Explorers learn the basics of police work from patrol tactics to radio procedures and report writing. They work through classroom and practical exercises. The group participates in competitions in Lawrenceville, Georgia and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In 2020, Explorer Post 111 placed first in Fox Hunt (a land navigation competition) and second place in felony traffic stop competitions.
In addition to learning more about law enforcement tactics and competing, the Explorers regularly help with local events. They have helped block intersections for the Mercy Health Paducah Iron Mom Half Marathon, helped with the Halloween on Jefferson event, Christmas Cops, and other events.
- Neighborhood Watch Programs
Neighborhood Watch is a vital part to the success of any community in preventing crime. The Paducah Police Department supports neighborhood watch groups throughout the community. Officers attend meetings to listen and exchange information on current crime trends and to help empower its members. If you wish to become a member of an existing watch group or are interested in organizing a new watch please contact the Police Department at 270-444-8548.
- Prescription Drug Drop Box
The Paducah Police Department partners with the Kentucky Crime Prevention Coalition and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide a year-round drop box where people can drop off expired or no longer needed medications. The box is located in the lobby of the Police Department at 1400 Broadway and accessible during normal business hours. Citizens need only to bring their medications to the lobby of the department and drop them into the designated box. No information is requested, and the police department will properly destroy the medication to ensure that it does not enter the water system or fall into the hands of drug dealers or our children. The drug disposal box and the semi-annual Drug Take-Back days result in the disposal of hundreds of pounds of prescription medications turned in by the public.
- Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
Why Volunteer at a Law Enforcement Agency? Simple - We Need You! Since September 11, 2001, the demands on state and local law enforcement have increased dramatically. As a result, the already limited resources of these agencies are being stretched further than ever, at a time when the country needs every available officer out on the beat. In many jurisdictions around the country, volunteers in the community have offered their time and skills to law enforcement agencies. These citizen volunteers help supplement and support officers and civilian personnel by allowing them to concentrate on their primary duties. Volunteer roles may include performing clerical tasks, serving as an extra set of "eyes and ears," assisting with search and rescue activities, and writing citations for accessible parking violations. VIPS often work in the historic downtown Paducah business district in to help with parking enforcement and to help with community events and festivals.
In 2019, the Paducah VIPS had 1178 hours of service. They assist with various special events including the Iron Mom Half Marathon, the Lower Town Arts & Music Festival, the Independence Day Celebration, BBQ on the River, Citizens' Police Academy classes, and Christmas Cops. Any citizen who is interested in VIPs should first apply to the Citizen's Police Academy program.
Officer Travis Counts, VIPS Coordinator
About Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS)
In his 2002 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush announced the creation of the USA Freedom Corps, an effort to foster a culture of service, citizenship, and responsibility, building on the generous spirit of the American people. He called on all Americans to serve a cause greater than themselves. The Citizen Corps programs are part of the USA Freedom Corps initiative and share the common goal of helping communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to crime, natural disasters, and other emergencies. Citizen Corps was created to help coordinate volunteer activities to make communities safer, stronger, and better prepared to respond to any emergency situation.
One of the Citizen Corps partner programs is the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program. The program's goal is to enhance the capacity of state and local law enforcement to utilize volunteers. The VIPS program provides volunteer support staff to aid sworn and civilian personnel in the effective delivery of services to the community. Volunteers supplement existing Police Department services, freeing paid employees to perform their necessary duties.