Badges and Bears is a new program where Hickory police officers show student-athletes what it takes to wear the badge on their chest.

HICKORY, NC — As different police forces in our region aim to build community relationships, one department is taking a new approach.

The Hickory Police Department is taking action through a new program called Badges and Bears.

Badges and Bears is a new program where Hickory police officers show student-athletes what it takes to wear the badge on their chest.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to build relationships so people can really get to know us and why we do what we do,” Hickory Police Chief Thurmond Whisnant said.

The first targets are the coaches and team captains of Lenoir Ryne University.

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Chief Whisnant said he secured the support of the CMPD Chief of Police for the program.

“Charlotte Mecklenburg did a similar program they call cops and studs with the Appalachian football team and so we got tips for him and for our local brand, the Lenoir Ryne Bears, so Badges and Bears is where it’s over,” Chief Whisnant said.

From the stadium to the team car, the players had the chance to exercise different muscles.

“So they were able to drive a police car and take some of our driving lessons in a real police car at our driving range,” Chief Whisnant said.

A physical ability test, traffic stop scenarios and an inside look at the K9 and swat team departments completed the experience.

Badges and Bears 2022 Photo Gallery! Badges and Bears is a new program where Hickory police officers welcome Lenoir-Rhyne…

Posted by Hickory Police Department – Official on Thursday March 31st 2022

“They all did well, but I think they were surprised at what we have to do year after year to maintain our fitness,” Chef Whisnant said.

The department’s priority is to help bridge the gap between officers and those in the community, but Captain Whisnant said he was also aiming to recruit.

Whisnant said he wanted the police department to resemble the demographics.

“We want them to be resilient and operate in a team environment and I think the players got to see that day how closely our environment is tied to their environment,” Chief Whisnant said.

The Hickory Police Department hopes to expand the program to the college basketball team and Catawba College student-athletes.

To learn more, visit the department’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/HickoryPoliceDepartment

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