2017-02-09 / Around Town

A New Face on Broadway’s Beat 2

Conversation with Merrie Scott
By Lynne Tungett


Newport was the first police department in Rhode Island to implement the community policing program in 1989. There are four community policing areas in the city. A new office space for Beat 2 is under negotiation. Officer Merrie Scott can be reached at 401-845-5863. Newport was the first police department in Rhode Island to implement the community policing program in 1989. There are four community policing areas in the city. A new office space for Beat 2 is under negotiation. Officer Merrie Scott can be reached at 401-845-5863. The Newport Police Department’s newest community policing officer is CPO Merrie Scott. A few weeks ago she was assigned Beat 2, the “center of the city” sector that Jimmy Winters covered until his retirement last fall after 28 years of service. In a conversation with Newport This Week, Scott said, “Stepping into Officer Winters’ shoes is going to be a big challenge for me.” But Scott is not new to the challenges of police work, having been with the department for 10 years. She was born in Newport and grew up in Chapel Terrace. She recalled that her first interest in law enforcement stemmed from a career day at Rogers High School when Officer J. L. Sullivan gave a presentation. Beyond that day at Rogers, she shares her story with us below:

How did you ultimately choose police work? I was working at City Hall as a municipal court administrator; whenever I saw the police officers, they always seemed so happy and enjoyed their work. I remembered that career day, but always thought I needed a college degree. When I found out that I didn’t need one, I decided to take the test.

Tell us about the process to join the force. It’s a long process; you have to pass a written test, get a background check, then do an interview with police officers. If all that goes well, then you meet with the chief. (A police department has to say they will hire you before the academy.) There’s also a physical fitness test. I went to the police academy in March 2007, graduated in June, and sworn in the next month.

What led you to become a community policing officer (CPO)? After the first year as a probationary officer and in-the-field training, you go to the patrol division. Your shift changes from late nights, to early watch, and then the day shift. So there’s a lot of traffic duty, business checks, and home alarm calls. It’s funny, I remember one of my first calls on the job was responding to a bike stolen at Chapel Terrace. Over the years, I decided I wanted to

be part of the city more. I recently went to the DARE school and found it interesting, so it seemed natural to apply for the vacancy in the CPO division.

What is a CPO? Community policing is a partnership with the community to resolve problems in the neighborhood and solve the issues or crime that arises.

Describe a typical day as a CPO. Each day is different, there is no real routine. I read over the call report from the night before and see what happened in my neighborhood. (Beat 2 is all along Broadway, west to the Point and over to Eustis and Catherine streets.) I look for quality of life issues, like fights or domestic calls, and follow up with businesses if they called in. I try to get out of my cruiser and walk along Broadway and other streets, but calls for service take precedence, so I can’t be too far from the car.

Are you going to be the DARE officer? What is the most important message of that program? Yes, my first class is later in February. I want the students to know that the police are here to help

them and to see me as a person, beyond the uniform, and to trust everyone in the uniform. Kids have to handle a lot of peer pressure. I hope I can help them learn to make safe, responsible decisions and to treat people with respect.

What do you hope to accomplish as the new Beat 2 CPO? I have developed a survey to be mailed out in a couple of weeks to the residents in my neighborhood. I will see what people have to say, but I want to make the quality of life better. I realize I have to work within the law and that often takes more time than I want it to. The challenge is to realize what has been given to me, and remember patience to work it through.

As the conversation drew to a close, Officer Scott’s cheerful smile transformed to a look of concern as her shoulder radio alerted her to a domestic call for assistance with an infant in distress. Sgt. Jason Kleinknecht, who commands the community policing unit, commented, “Merrie wears the uniform with pride, she connects well with people, and as you can see, she is a caring person.”

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