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Pembroke green-lights police ride-alongs
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Pembroke has again given the green light to police ride-alongs, five months after banning them because of worries over liability.
The new policy was adopted at the April 8 city council meeting. It replaces one approved in November that excluded everyone from squad cars except police department employees and people who were under arrest.
That sounded good from a liability standpoint, but it had an unintended side-effect, according to Police Chief Mark Crowe.
“What it did was keep us from being able to give rides to people who might need our assistance,” said Pembroke Police Chief Mark Crowe.
Ride-along programs are used by police departments around the U.S. to improve community relations by allowing members of the public to see how officers perform their jobs in a real life setting.
Pembroke in the past has allowed them at the discretion of the police chief, according to City Administrator Franklin Etheridge, but there was never a formal policy on the books.
Now, residents and nonresidents alike can apply to ride with Pembroke officers, but have to pass a background check and sign a waiver saying they won’t sue the city if something happens. Those approved have to follow a number of rules ranging from staying in police cars at all times to leaving the cameras or other recording devices at home.
Felons, people facing criminal charges and those who are involved in lawsuits against the city or police department aren’t eligible for the ride-along program.
And ultimately it is up to police to decide whether someone can take part in a ride-along, according to the new policy, which is based on a model from the Georgia Municipal Association.
Crowe, quoting from the new policy, said the ride-along program is “an effort to enhance mutual respect” between police and the community.
“It will be in effect as soon as the city attorney does the waiver form for us,” he said. 

Note: A Pembroke city council workshop on water and sewer fees originally set for Monday night has been rescheduled to Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. The workshop will cover tap in and connection fees for new water and sewer customers.
The workshop is open to the public.

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