Meet Downtown’s New NPO- Brian Harhausen

Brian Harhausen was born and raised in Mason City, IL. He later moved to Williamsville, where he attended high school and graduated from in 1996. Shortly after, Harhausen moved to Springfield, where he attended a few community colleges and finally settled down at the University of Illinois- Springfield where he finished his four- year degree in Psychology in 2003.

Harhausen’s first job right out of school was at a special education school in Sangamon County called SAS Ed. He served as a teacher’s aide. “Back then I had no intentions of becoming a police officer,” he said. Harhausen’s career goal was to become a school psychologist, which would require an extra four years of school. He had to make the decision to either further his education and spend more time in school or start a career.

Teacher’s Aide Turned Neighborhood Police Officer

After many conversations with the school police officers at SAS Ed, Harhausen learned that there were multiple job opportunities available at the Springfield Police Department and he decided to go for it. Harhausen applied for a position and landed his first job with the police department in 2007 with their Street Crime Unit, later moving to midnights and finally ending up as Downtown Springfield’s newest Neighborhood Police Officer (NPO) at the start of 2017.

What Role Does an NPO Play?

An NPO is designed to address ongoing issues in specific neighborhoods. Harhausen is responsible for Beat 200 which encompasses the Downtown area. He works with all the businesses, organizations and merchants with whatever issues they might be having. The job was essentially created to be a liaison between a neighborhood and the police department so that there was someone whom people would feel comfortable contacting whenever an issue arose.

According to Harhausen, it is vital for residents and merchants to have a good relationship with the police department because it builds up a trust between the two and it speeds up the process of solving any issues in the area. He urges merchants and individuals to relay any issues to the police department the instant that they occur, so that police know what they are dealing with right away and can quickly address those issues.

The Springfield Police Department has made many efforts to keep Springfield a safe area to live, work and play. Some of these efforts include: bar closing details to ensure that bars close smoothly without incident, alcohol and tobacco stings which reinforce legal protocols, and neighborhood walks so that officers can meet residents individually and introduce themselves to the community. Harhausen believes that Downtown is safe overall. “There is always room for improvement. As businesses continue to thrive, the amount of patrons coming downtown will increase and this in turn will give the perception that downtown is a safe place,” he said. His hope for the future of downtown and the city as a whole is to do anything that helps to facilitate business growth.

Downtown homelessness and panhandling is something that is brought up a lot among business owners and residents. Harhausen believes that downtown partners are on the right track to addressing this nationwide epidemic. “From a police officer’s perspective, there are resources available for those that might be homeless downtown… we can refresh DSI’s program so that people know to donate money to organizations in Springfield that provide services for the homeless, that way residents aren’t giving money directly to panhandlers,” said Harhausen.

Officer Harhausen loves his job regardless of some of the unappealing issues he deals with on a regular basis. “I enjoy tackling difficult issues. One of the things that drew me into education at the beginning was that I could be a part of a person’s personal life, in the sense that I could help them out. In police work I tend to come into people’s lives when they are not in the best situation. It feels good to be able to try and help people out of what ever situation they are in whether it’s good or bad,” he said.

Officer Harhausen is married to Angela and has three children. Hannah is 14, River is 12 and Ava is 8. On his day off, Harhausen enjoys taking his children to the President Abraham Lincoln Museum and going to Obed and Isaac’s with his wife. He has served as a Springfield police officer for ten years.

Contact

The non-emergency number at the Police Department is 217-788-8325. If you are a downtown business and don’t have Officer Harhausen’s digits in your own phone, contact the DSI office at 217-544-1723.