CEDAR HILL – It was the City of Cedar Hill’s 18th neighborhood walk, which is spearheaded by the Cedar Hill Police Department and Police Chief Ely Reyes.
The quarterly walk includes not only members of the police department but also city council members, city staff, Public Works, Fire Department personnel, and others.
Starting four years ago, Reyes had no idea the success the program would bring the city to meet citizens face-to-face and address issues.
With over 50 neighborhoods in the City of Cedar Hill to walk, there are certainly many residents with ideas and comments about how to improve the city overall.
This past weekend there were seven teams divided up to meet with all the residents in Highland North the main question when each resident answered the door “How can we serve our community better?”
I had the chance to walk with Cedar Hill Mayor Stephen Mason, Chief Reyes, and Deputy City Manager Melissa Valadez-Cummings. The team made me feel welcome and it was great to catch up with these three city leaders and be reminded what a jewel this city is – the residents we talked to that day agreed as well.
The few concerns included Cedar Hill ISD, one resident mentioned noise, but 99% of the residents who answered their door said the city is doing an amazing job and they are glad to be residents.
Also, most of the people on the blocks we covered have lived in their homes in Cedar Hill for many years – as in 20-plus and that too speaks volumes with no words even being said.
In Mayor Mason’s words “I am doing a police walk with the chief and it is an initiative he started back in 2019. He wanted to get into the community and instead of him driving around in his cruiser he wanted to actually knock on the door and learn a little bit more about his community. Therefore, he started this police walk with the Chief. Councilmembers are involved with city departments like fire, code enforcement, animal shelter, etc. and we do also encourage our school board members to participate in the effort. We just knock on doors, meet with our neighborhood and residents, and ask them how we can better serve them.”
Reyes added regarding the neighborhood walk “Our neighborhood walk program has become one of our hallmark community engagement opportunities we have with the police department. It has really transitioned because when we started it four years ago with just the police department, council members, and city management, now it involves all the departments. It has evolved into learning about our communities, hearing direct feedback from our citizens, and how we can better serve them.”
He said that a lot of the concerns of the community do not necessarily have to do with the police department and can run the gamut from code enforcement to concerns with lighting and other areas “so it is important we can go to them instead of waiting for them to come to us.”
All about public engagement, Mason concluded by saying “I really enjoy just going out and getting a good sense if our residents feel safe in our community. I think the walk has been successful and I get a barometer about what is going on and the best way for us to get information for the council to take back to our retreats and better engage with our community. Kudos to Chief Reyes for putting doing something like this and I hope we continue to do this and connect with every neighborhood.”