KCPD is increasing it's focus on community policing,.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Months ago, the Kansas City Police Department got $1.8 million to put more officers out in the community.
"It's wonderful. Overwhelming at the same time. A lot of information that as a patrol officer, you don't even consider," Officer Holly Sticken said.
She and her partner, Officer Andy Hamil, took 41 Action News out to show us what they do every day.
Sticken is on her 11th week as one of the six new Community Interaction Officers, or CIOs, at KCPD. Chief Rick Smith doubled the number in April, so now two CIOs are assigned to each area.
Sticken has been a police officer for 20 years, but she wanted to take on this role to make a difference.
Sticken and Hamil cover Center Patrol, where for a while it was just Hamil. They help address neighborhood issues, such as a worrisome dead-end in Beacon Hill.
"We find cars parked up here in middle of the night. Sometimes drug activity," said Dee Evans, president of the neighborhood association.
Evans said having two familiar faces is a big plus.
"It'll bring them into the neighborhood as if they were our own residents too," Evans said.
Many neighborhood leaders hope having more CIOs will help bridge a gap between police and the youth.
Now Hamil and Sticken can cover more ground. Before Rick Smith became chief, the CIO program was put on hold. Calls from people like Ms. Evans wouldn't necessarily take first priority.
"They would go to 911 or the non-emergency line and they would send it out to patrol," Sticken said.
That's a lot to put on patrol officers.
Although they have more boots on the ground, Sticken wishes some community issues weren't so hard to solve.
They walked up under the Troost bridge next to 71 Highway, where several men are living in a tent and sleeping in a hammock.
Center Patrol takes a lot of calls dealing with the homeless population.
They showed us another camp under the Holmes Street bridge, where piles of trash lay festering in the heat.
"But what our concern is, is not only their health, their well-being, but the rodents that come in," Sticken said.
Sticken said she's constantly going over in her mind what she can do to help, and it's not throwing homeless folks in jail.
They offered to connect the man under Troost bridge with services, and will likely come back with a social worker next time.
The new CIOs, like Sticken, work 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. when real issues are happening.
"I deal with a lot of the neighborhood meetings, calls from people that are coming home from work," Sticken said. "I'll drive around to see if there are lighting issues after dark."
Sticken said what really sealed it for her was going to a Beacon Hill picnic at Evans' house last fall.
"That's when I decided. I talked to my captain, told him okay, this is the position I want to go for," Sticken said.
Whether it's outreach to a person living in a tent or helping a resident beef up their home security, the goal is to empower everyone.
"We are going to try our hardest," said Sticken.