Thomasville- The Thomasville Police Department is doing an above-average job. A survey was filled out by hundreds of Thomasville residents, then analyzed by a neutral party.
That neutral party was Valdosta State University. They put the survey together, sent it out, and then looked over the results. After that, they compiled a comprehensive report so the Thomasville Police Department knows how well it's doing, and where it needs to improve.
When TPD officers roll out each day, they don't just protect and serve, they go above and beyond. "I think we have some of the best officers in the country," says Chief David Huckstep. He also says that's proved by the department's latest statistics. "Crime overall is down for about the fourth year in a row now in Thomasville."
That's because of community oriented policing, something Huckstep says is integral to any successful department. "The only way the community is going to partner with this police department is they have to know their police department. They have to have trust in their police department," says Huckstep.
Trust that's demonstrated in the latest annual report. Last year, the TPD used pepper spray only four times, physical force only six times, and a baton only once. A handgun was drawn, but not fired, 11 times. Another weapon was fired once, but only at a rabid animal. "Certainly we always want to lower those numbers even more so. But our numbers are relatively low compared to a lot of other cities," says Huckstep.
Another aspect of the TPD that's fairly low compared other cities is the number of complaints internal affairs received. "We take it very seriously if you have a complaint against an officer. And we look at each and every one of them," says Huckstep.
Last year, because of improper conduct there were 2 firings, 2 disciplinary actions taken, and 1 unfounded case. There was also one officer disciplined for improper investigation. "We have some very strong values in integrity and in trust, and our standards that we hold our officers to," says Huckstep.
But no matter how top-notch the TPD's report is, as Chief Huckstep says there's always room for improvement. "One area that we need to do a better job on is a follow up on investigations, on contacting the citizens once they've reported the crime," he says. Overall though, a stellar report for a stellar police department- reflected in the B-plus rating given by the community.
Huckstep says that another reason the TPD is such a professional department is because it's held to higher standards. It was one of the first departments in the country to receive national accreditation. Huckstep likens that to a college's accreditation.
Huckstep adds that that the TPD has taken the proactive approach to fixing that communications problem with crime victims. A new departmental policy mandates that all crime victims will be contacted within seven days of a report being taken. If it's a felony, a detective will handle the follow up. If it's a misdemeanor, a patrol officer will be in contact.