Hickory Police Department (HPD) works diligently to serve and protect the Hickory community under the philosophy of community policing. The department is constantly looking for innovative solutions to improve its service and ways to partner with the community to ensure safety and order for the City of Hickory.
Over the last many months, several law enforcement agencies in Catawba County have partnered with the District Attorney’s Office and local behavioral health agencies to participate in a diversion program for low level drug offenders. Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (L.E.A.D) is a program where police officers have the ability to divert low level offenders out of the criminal justice system and immediately into drug treatment services. Individuals who have been diverted have 14 days to complete a full clinical assessment in order to be connected to services. If they fail to complete this requirement then they will be charged with their original offense and put into the criminal justice system. Statistics from other L.E.A.D. programs around the country show a significant decrease in criminal activity from those individuals who have been diverted out of the criminal justice system and are participating in L.E.A.D. programs. This reduction in criminal activity not only results in less crime in a community, but also results in cost savings due to L.E.A.D. programs costing less than adjudication and incarceration.
Local law enforcement agencies participating in the L.E.A.D. program include Hickory, Newton, Conover, Maiden, and Claremont Police Departments. Other agencies partnering in the program include Catawba Valley Behavioral Health, Partners Behavioral Health, Cogitative Connection, and the District Attorney’s Office of the 25th District.
In addition to partnering with community agencies to combat social issues like drug abuse and homelessness, Hickory Police Department has invested in new technologies and equipment to improve its service to citizens. Within the past year, all HPD officers have been issued handheld VIPER (Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders) radios that can communicate with all surrounding public safety agencies. Mobile radios that are compatible with the VIPER system have also been installed in all police vehicles. This is a new capability and major accomplishment for the police department. This is extremely important, especially in the event of a critical incident.
To further improve police efforts by utilizing technology, all marked police vehicles now have high speed internet access. This technology gives officers access not only to internal records, but also a host of other criminal justice applications in the field.
HPD will also be releasing a new smart phone application in the near future. The app will connect citizens with multiple services and information that relate to HPD. Some examples include: real time crime mapping and data, alerts, tips, links to all HPD social media, photos, hiring, permitting and other important information. The app should be available to download for free in June.
“Hickory Police Department will continually strive to be innovative and work in a partnership with our citizens to solve problems to make Hickory the safest and best place to live, work, and play,” said Police Chief Thurman Whisnant.
You may have also noticed Hickory officers sporting a new uniform patch. The recently unveiled patch is designed to be consistent with the City of Hickory brand. The patch depicts the beauty of Lake Hickory with the foothills and mountains in the background. The center of the patch has the state flag with an abstract eagle in the middle symbolizing the strength and freedom of America. The departmental core values of Professionalism, Accountability, Compassion and Teamwork are in a circle because each are equally important to the police department’s organizational mission.