Living Sustainably: Community Policing is Sustainability Session Topic

By Penny Shuff, League of Women Voters of the Holland Area
A safe but also friendly community is an essential part of creating sustainable quality of life. But can we maintain both a safe and secure environment while also being a warm and welcoming community?
The Holland Police Department’s approach to community policing will be the focus of the next installment of the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore continuing education series, with a discussion titled “Community Policing for Peaceful Living.”

Serving ice cream at public events is one of the ways the community policing program seeks to build relationships to boost quality of life in Holland.

The concept of community policing has been around for decades, and the Holland Department of Public Safety has been engaged in this approach for 20 years. Sgt. Larry Matzen leads the Holland police program and says the idea is to create better relationships in the community with people from all walks of life. “Intimately knowing our families and the people we serve is key to building trust,” Matzen said. He explained that community officers are dedicated to the complex task of gaining trust by getting to know the needs of the citizens they serve.

The program on Feb. 6 will be a chance to find out more from Matzen about techniques used by the Holland police to cultivate good relationships with every citizen and especially with residents of our diverse populations. Did you know Holland community police officers will make time to replace a broken tail light? Can you guess how many people were served ice cream last summer by community officers as they were getting better acquainted with their neighbors? These are just some examples Matzen will discuss.
Matzen said Holland is a small town dealing with many of the same issues facing larger cities and every police department needs the public’s help in preventing and solving crimes.
 Hear how community policing is working to establish trust between local law enforcement and all citizens so eyewitnesses feel comfortable coming forward. This relationship is key to solving crimes and keeping all residents safe.
Matzen will explain how community police officers are specially trained based upon long-term research in law enforcement studies, and he will discuss the unique support these officers have from the Holland police chief. He also will talk about whether or not body cameras are working and how police generally feel about wearing cameras. Information on what every driver should know if they are ever pulled over by police will also be available.
In large and small ways, the goal of community policing is to break down barriers and create an environment where trust is a two-way street between Holland law enforcement and the citizens they serve.
Join us for a unique discussion with Sgt. Matzen at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 6, at Herrick District Library.

 Penny Shuff is public relations director for the League of Women Voters of the Holland Area, a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

What: Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series
Topic: “Community Policing for Peaceful Living”
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 6
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.