Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant announces retirement
After 30 years of qualified service to the citizens of Hickory, Chief of Police Thurman Whisnant announced that he will retire on January 31, 2023.
“It has been such an honor to serve my entire career here in my hometown of Hickory,” said Whisnant. “Hickory is a special place because of the extremely dedicated men and women who serve at HPD and also our community that gives us overwhelming support and provides us with an outstanding work environment.”
Whisnant was appointed by former City Manager Mick Berry as City of Hickory's Chief of Police on July 1, 2016, after 22 years of proven experience with the Hickory Police Department (HPD). He began his career with HPD in 1993 as an intern through Appalachian State University and was sworn in as a police officer on May 16, 1994, where he quickly gained the experience and knowledge to become a recognized leader within the department. During his tenure, Whisnant served in various roles within the department and was promoted through the ranks, serving as the Division Commander in each of the three departmental divisions (Patrol, Criminal Investigations, and Support Services) and Deputy Chief of Police before his appointment as Chief of Police. This experience gave him insight to successfully lead the department’s authorized force of 122 sworn officers and 35 civilians under his command.
Chief Whisnant received his Bachelor of Science degree from Appalachian State University in 1993. In 2007, he was nominated and selected to attend the prestigious FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, where he graduated as part of the 230th Session. He has maintained active memberships in several key professional associations to include the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Police Executive Research Forum, and the FBI National Academy Association. He currently serves as a Regional Director for the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police representing ten Western North Carolina counties.
Throughout the challenging national policing climate of recent years, Chief Whisnant continued to focus departmental efforts into the philosophy of community policing by continuing to build partnerships and trust in the community, utilizing innovative strategies to solve problems, focusing on officer wellness, and expanding recruitment and retention efforts. Some notable departmental accomplishments during Chief Whisnant’s tenure include the creation of L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) which is an opioid addiction diversion program, implementation of the ABLE Program which provides officers intervention and de-escalation skills that are necessary in modern policing, the opening of a Training Annex facility with a virtual reality scenario-based training simulator for officer safety, becoming the first agency in North Carolina to implement the Blue Courage program for officer wellness and resiliency, the creation of HPD’s first formalized chaplaincy program, the addition of a departmental Community Navigator to address issues related to homelessness, and creation of the state’s first Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program for local students to have a direct pathway to a career at HPD. Additionally, Hickory has continued to experience some of the lowest crime index rates in recent history, with record-setting years in 2019, 2020, and 2021 having the lowest numbers of index crimes since 1995.
“Thurman has been an integral member of the City staff and has led his department with integrity, humility, and innovation. One of his strongest traits is the ability to establish and maintain effective communications and rapport with fellow staff, management, and citizens, plus the various community partners and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies,” noted City Manager Warren Wood. “He leaves our community stronger and safer, and his legacy will continue through Hickory Police Department’s excellent service to our citizens.”
Whisnant has always believed in giving back to the community. During his career, he has been heavily involved in supporting the NC Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics by organizing and participating in various supportive fundraising events to support the athletes. In 2012, he was chosen to represent all of North Carolina Law Enforcement by carrying the torch to light the cauldron to open the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. He is a graduate of the Leadership Catawba program and has served on the boards of Exodus Homes and The Children’s Advocacy and Protection Center. He served six years as the liaison for the Hickory Community Relations Council and is also active in the Hickory Racial Justice and Reconciliation Discussion Group.
“On behalf of Hickory City Council, we greatly appreciate Thurman’s professionalism and dedication to serving Hickory residents and visitors over the years. His leadership at HPD has helped to make Hickory a better community and a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family. We certainly wish him a long and happy retirement,” shared Mayor Hank Guess.
“I am grateful to everyone, especially my family, who has supported me through the years,” added Whisnant. “I look forward to my next chapter and I am confident that with the leadership in place, we will continue to see great things from the men and women of HPD!”