You’re five years on the job and an interesting opportunity opens up in a town roughly the same size as the place you patrol today, but someplace far enough away that you really don’t know much about it. You apply. You get the job. You move. What do you do once you’re there?
The best thing an officer can do in a situation like that is ask questions and then listen to the answers. Having about five years on, a good cop should be able to listen to the information given by an old “retired on the job” officer without running the risk of feeling he or she has to emulate them. Bear in mind, even if the ROTJ veteran is notorious for avoiding work/trouble, they obviously will have the knowledge of where trouble is likely to be in order to avoid it!
Of course, the “active” officers can also offer a plethora of info — they know where things are happening because they actively seek it out.
While having personal informants is certainly a plus, it’s icing on the cake. If that officer new to town is willing to get out of the squad car and talk to folks out for a walk, or cutting their grass, or sitting on their porch having a beer (which they may choose to avoid seeing for the sake of a useful conversation), they’re going to pick up a lot of information on at least some of the important local issues.
Quiet senior citizens in a neighborhood will know what households aren’t quiet. School teachers (at home) may be more than willing to ID potential problem children (and parents), particularly when it’s their own neighborhood at stake.
In short, take a page from Sir Robert’s book and connect with the individuals in the community. Many of the “regular citizens” may be so shocked at actually being asked for their opinion/ideas, they may flood the asker with more information than they’re prepared for! Most importantly, build relationships based on honest communication and interest.
Welcome to your new home town!