In Saratoga Springs, new community officers look to build trust, relationships

Community engagement officers part of broader safety plan

Two officers are taking on a new role in downtown Saratoga Springs.

There’s a new approach to safety in Saratoga Springs. Two new community engagement officers, or CEOs, are now patrolling downtown, an expanded approach after the previous CEO was promoted.

Officer Zachary Ferris has been with the department for four years, and Officer Ryan Nicholson has been there for two years. Both previously worked midnights. Now, they are looking to put a face to the department downtown.

“I like to talk to people, get to know where people come from,” Nicholson said.

“The opportunity came up and I saw it as a different way to approach working with the community and solving the problems that the city may have,” Ferris said. “The reception of our position has been great.”

They’ve received a warm welcome from local businesses, many dealing with fears of retail theft. A brazen smash and grab at Lola Saratoga stunned the community in December.

“There’s more eyes than just us working down there, so having the relationship, the positive relationship with all the business owners, it’s going to help us deter crime, or if we have a situation where we need help, it can help by having extra eyes on the streets,” Nicholson said.

Community engagement officers building relationships in Saratoga

Police are looking to strengthen their relationships with local businesses and the community.

The officers are also there to support the organizations working on issues like homelessness, a top priority of the city’s new Mayor John Safford and new Public Safety Commissioner Tim Coll. Police Chief Tyler McIntosh took over in the summer of 2023 and said the officers’ approach is part of a broader effort to build trust and relationships in the community.

“We’re slowly expanding our approach to make sure we’re hitting a lot of the different communities in the area, fielding their concerns,” McIntosh said. “The big thing is really enhancing that trust from the community, and people willingly and openly coming to us to discuss issues, not just when they have a problem, but having a continual positive relationship.”

The officers encouraged people downtown to introduce themselves.

“If you see us, you know, stop, have a conversation,” Ferris said.