June 28, 2024

First Responders: Philip Pollen

1.6 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

By Christine Andola

First Responders: Philip Pollen

1.6 min read| Published On: June 28th, 2024|

Clermont police captain’s innovative programs transform policing in South Lake community. 

Cpl. Philip Pollen had five years of law enforcement experience when he started as a road patrol officer with the Clermont Police Department in 2016.

When he demonstrated a natural ability to talk with people and de-escalate tense situations, his supervisor offered him a position on the hostage negotiation team.

“Most people who get into tense situations have something else going on that may not be immediately obvious,” Cpl. Pollen explains. “I’m always curious to find out what it is and see if I can help. Real connections foster real healing.”

As a nationally certified hostage negotiator, Cpl. Pollen wanted to reach out to provide community services that were a little different than typical policing. He helped launch the Mobile Crisis Response Service, a grant-funded program that partnered Cpl. Pollen with a therapist from LifeStream Behavioral Center.

“We were the first in the state to set up a mobile crisis unit equipped to deal with the mental health aspects of a call on-site,” he says.

Here’s how the unit works: A licensed clinician responds to calls involving domestic violence or people who may be a danger to themselves and others. The mental health professional offers counseling to de-escalate the immediate threat and provides access to crisis shelters and rehab programs.

When the grant ended in December 2023, Cpl. Pollen created the Community Outreach and Support Team (COAST). Through COAST, the Clermont Police Department partners with therapy services, child welfare, LGBTQ services, health care resources, food banks, housing authorities and other service providers.

When officers respond to a domestic violence call, for example, they tell Cpl. Pollen what services are needed and he connects them to the appropriate partners. 

“The program demonstrates a trauma-informed approach to law enforcement, the biggest reason for everything I do,” Cpl. Pollen explains. 

Cpl. Pollen’s success in law enforcement comes from his passion for people, understanding what’s troubling them and getting them help.

“If I see something that isn’t working or an inefficiency putting up barriers to people getting what they need, I’ll do what I can to remove those barriers,” he says.

Cpl. Pollen has a lot of titles: Intelligence Liasson Officer, Crisis Intervention Stress Management Team Member, Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator, Corporal of Community Service Division and Homeless Mitigation Advisory Council Member. But he sums it all up by describing his current role as simply “taking care of people.”

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About the Author: Christine Andola

With a bachelor’s degree in communication from the State University of New York, College at New Paltz, in 1990 Christine embarked on a blind journey to building a career. She moved through teaching in the inner city public schools, reporting for a weekly newspaper, writing user manuals and technical documentation at a software company, lobbying and public relations at the state level for national associations and marketing for professional services firms.

Christine’s writing portfolio includes everything from newspapers to grant proposals. She has developed web content, written blogs, ghost-written professional journal articles and drafted ad copy. From technical writing to lifestyle feature pieces, Christine lives by the value of words. She enjoys learning about the people around her and sharing information in a way that resonates with readers.

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