The Beverly Hills Police Department is getting its officers out of their patrol cars and walking beats throughout the city.
The program, called "Park and Walk" by Mayor Tom Levyn, began Monday and requires each officer to spend about 15 minutes of each shift on foot patrol.
Levyn proposed the program after a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting last month when he learned of its use in other cities. Levyn discussed it with Police Chief Marvin Iannone, who gave his approval after seeking comments from officers.
Police and city officials predicted "Park and Walk" will increase contact among police, residents and merchants, serve as a deterrent to crime and break the monotony of spending a long shift in a car.
"This fits right in with our concept of community policing," Levyn said. "We think this is going to make the most positive impression of any program we've seen in a long time."
It will improve communication between officers and the public, and "lead to better public safety," Levyn said.
"Park and Walk" is considered experimental, but Levyn and Sgt. John Edmundson expect it to continue after its three-month trial.
"We are putting this in action on an experimental basis because we are always assessing the rivaling needs in managing manpower," Iannone said in a videotaped message announcing the launch of the program. "One thing that we are going to very carefully protect is our extraordinary response time to emergency calls. We think this will be very compatible with it."
The department's officers like the idea, said Officer Carey Williams. "It gives them the chance to get out of the car and meet with the businessmen, who love the contact," he said.
And Williams added, "A lot of the public see a policeman in uniform and think of them as robots or insensitive. Once you speak to a police officer, you see the human side, that they are humans and don't just write tickets. This is something every community should be doing."