No two days are exactly the same for the Rochester Police Department’s new community engagement officer, Kyle Danie, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Officer Danie spends little time fulfilling traditional police patrol duties, instead focusing his attention on being an approachable public face of the department for students, business owners and residents alike.
Sitting in an office with a whiteboard filled with upcoming events in the city, Officer Danie started his shift last Thursday morning by meeting with a community college student to provide some insight on police work.
Following that meeting, he moved on to Spaulding High School for a brief walking patrol — part of an increased presence by the department as a whole — before moving on to the School Street School to visit with and read to third and fourth grade students.
As Officer Danie made his way through the building, a student who he seems to run into every time he’s there greeted him and told him, “It’s like we’re best buddies!”
“A lot of this job is making friends with the community and gaining their trust,” Officer Danie said. “It’s a different mindset than patrol in a lot of ways, but it’s very rewarding, I think.”
Another rewarding aspect is the variety of responsibilities he has on a given day and how much his role changes from one day to the next. In a single day Officer Danie could be participating in a skating event, helping Girl Scouts earn their detective badges, or working directly with community members to help enhance their understanding of his and the department’s role in the city.
“I haven’t found myself twiddling my thumbs thinking of something I need to do,” he said. “And I eventually see myself getting more creative with this position.”
During his stop at School Street School, Officer Danie read to and fielded a litany of questions from third and fourth grade students — confirming police officers’ love for coffee and doughnuts and explaining the different items on his belt, among other inquiries.
He then joined the students for recess, playing basketball and jumping rope outside before moving inside and arriving fashionably late to a dance party.
“Being a police officer forces you to step out of your comfort zone, especially this role,” said Officer Danie, a four-year veteran of the Rochester Police Department. “A lot of what I do is different than what you’d expect out of typical police work, but I like making the bonds with people and understanding more about where they’re coming from.”
Following his stop on School Street, Officer Danie moved on to Tri-City CO-OP to speak with staff members about how things are going for them and what he can do to help. On his way out, he paused for a brief chat with a woman who he had met at the city warming shelter a few weeks earlier to see how she’s been doing.
His afternoon schedule included performing a regular walking beat through downtown, visiting with business owners and listening to any concerns they may want addressed.
“Our downtown, in my eyes, has a lot of ability to thrive,” Officer Danie said. “I’m really enthusiastic about working with our businesses and with the community as a whole to make Rochester as great as it can be.”
Officer Danie began working as the community engagement officer in January and will fill that role for at least a year.