Rocky Mount’s new police chief implementing new technology to fight crime ::

– After just six weeks in office, Rocky Mount’s new chief of police is changing the way the violent crime unit works and implementing new efforts to improve public safety through technology.

“The police can’t do this alone,” said Rocky Mount Police Chief Robert Hassell. “We need this cooperation and these partnerships with our citizens.”

Since taking office officially in late May, Hassell has said he was anxious to understand his department and his new community.

“So far I think things are great,” he said. “My move to the department has been very welcoming. The staff do an excellent job of bringing me up to date on the department’s capabilities.”

Along with a new police chief, gun violence has increased in Rocky Mount over the past six weeks, which is common in the summer months. Many local residents say they feel unsafe in their own four walls.

Hassell said the process of trying to maintain public safety and stay ahead of violence is multi-faceted.

“I have four areas where we are trying to deal with violent crime and be more proactive,” he said.

Part of that strategy is the use of a full-time crime analyst to break down which parts of the city are more violent, and a new Violent Crimes and Gangs Task Force to help bridge the gap with young people in Rocky Mount.

“If we can get them while they’re young, before they hook into gang life, I think” [it] will be vital to helping us keep these people out of the gangs and hopefully reduce the level of violence that gangs bring into our community, “said Hassell.

Coupled with this people-centric approach, Hassell hopes to use some cutting-edge tools to take crime prevention a step further.

“We’re really looking at two big tech projects,” he said. “Both are in the early stages of implementation.”

One of those projects is a new police app called Atlas One that was recently approved by the city council. The app would allow police to send real-time updates on crimes to people who live in neighborhoods where the crimes are taking place.

“We believe that a citizen can better protect himself, prevent crime and make sure they have the tools and resources they need to report incidents they may see in the community,” said Hassell.

Hassell plans to provide further details on the second technology project in the coming months.