Community Cop: Serving community promotes more service: Roberts
Education and outreach are the keys to sustaining a healthy community, according to Houghton Police Lt. Nicholas Roberts, who received the Community Development award last week at the Keweenaw Community Spark Plug Awards dinner.
Roberts has gone beyond just protecting and serving. Over his 25 years at the department, he has made a significant mark on the community through involvement and outreach.
He said it’s really a team effort.
“I just don’t want it to feel like we’re helping the community,” he said.“Our community helps us a lot too. It’s not one-sided.”
He added, “I think if we get on the same page with the people in our community, we make this a better place for them to live and they in return help us.”
Even though the officers’ jobs may be unpredictable, “rough” and misunderstood by many, Roberts takes pride in being able to help others.
“If I can assist someone every single day, I’m happy,” he said.
He encourages others to live by that motto.
The department works with organizations like Dial Help, Copper County Mental Health and others to make sure that they are able to help a variety of people.
Roberts feels strongly about mental health, education, support of the elderly, reducing drug-related issues and helping in these efforts as much as possible.
Roberts said mental illness is an area he wanted to make sure the department was educated on.
“That is one big thing that I do push here is to make sure that police officers get crisis intervention training to assist the mentally ill,” he said, adding, “As police officers we need to be educated on mental illness so we can better serve them. It’s a hideous illness, and anything we can do to help families we can’t go wrong.”
Nationwide, academies have an array of training classes for officers to become educated on how to treat patients with mental illness fairly and how to get them help.
“A lot of times if somebody doesn’t know that someone is mentally ill or has a problem they may just deal with it as a criminality when in fact you should be treating it differently,” he said.
He stressed the importance of education and how all community members can learn to be more empathetic and should strive to learn something new every day.
Although Roberts faces challenges every day, the former chef-in-training made the right choice of entering law enforcement.
“I think this was the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “Working for the city of Houghton and our police department has been a great experience for me.”