I’m not stumped about the original name of my town. It makes sense to me. It was called Stumptown (didn’t you see that coming?) because there were stumps everywhere from clearing land for farming. Mostly cotton. Back then, the town had a town marshal who also served as judge and jury. That was then, but now…..
Fast forward to today. Matthews (official name as of 1879) is located on the outskirts of Charlotte, North Carolina. What started out as a small farming town is now a thriving and progressive community. Fortunately, the downtown area still has the quaintness and remnants of a past era, although traffic has increased dramatically.
On January 23, I began the Matthews Citizens Police Academy along with other interested residents of the community. It is a program offered every year to educate the public on the services of the Matthews Police Department. The 8-week program is coordinated and led by Officer Tim Aycock, Police Community Resource & Public Information Officer. He introduced Chief Rob Hunter who welcomed us and gave a brief history of the department and explained its current operations. Chief Hunter joined the force in 1987 and became chief in 1993. What impressed me most about what Chief Hunter said was the amount of training and the professional expectations required of officers. I feel that although the pay is not equal to the amount of hours and service that the Matthews Police officers give to the community, they love what they do.
I see Matthews Police patrol cars around town, but I had no idea the town has 58 sworn officers. I like that they have take-home vehicles, which makes the community safer by having a more visible presence. This also makes sense when you consider it extends the life of a cruiser from normal wear and tear by having the same driver/operator. That is a good thing because the cost of a fully equipped vehicle with all the technological gizmos like cameras and computers runs around $40,000.
And on the subject of patrol cars, Chief Hunter introduced Captain Roy Sisk who heads the Patrol Division Operations. Under his leadership are four divisions, each making up of a sergeant, corporal, and six officers. Officers work twelve hour shifts. Sometimes on their days off, they go through training programs/exercises, make court appearances, or participate in community events. An example of a community program they sponsor is the Child Safety Seat Clinic that is held every Wednesday morning.
I asked Chief Hunter if the officers have received special training to handle active shooter situations. He stated that his department began training for this several years ago at facilities that might be a likely target, for example, a school. Officers alternate between this specialized training and driving school where they hone their driving skills for pursuits.
I realize that in our beginning class, the officers have only scratched the surface of the operations of the police department. More is to come, so stay tuned. Over and out. Roger that.