A sense of community, of everyone working together, is what Greg Bolen is hoping to instill as Hillsville’s new police chief.
“We exist to serve the community. I think that’s something people tend to lose sight of. I’m trying to instill that,” says Bolen. “I want a personal touch. I want each individual we come in contact with, whether it’s good or bad, to receive personal attention. All I’ve ever asked in any job is to be treated fairly. I want police conduct that is responsive, but sensitive to the needs of the community. I want to earn the community’s respect as a police chief.”
Bolen adds, “I want to elevate the standards of professionalism and strengthen the public’s confidence in the office; and, by doing so, earn the support and cooperation of the community.”
As a means of doing this, Bolen had made some changes in the department. Police now patrols the town on foot, checking in with businesses to see if they can be of any help, and conducts more business checks at night. In addition, bike patrols will return, officers will be more visible at schools and the department will launch a Facebook page.
By having officers patrol the streets, Bolen feels they become more approachable to the public.
“We have officers walking into businesses, introducing themselves and asking if there’s anything they need or anything we can do for them. They’re making themselves more approachable,” he said. “The businesses and citizens need to know us not by a bad experience, but by a good experience.”
The nightly checks have also begun. From Dec. 8 through Jan. 11, officers made 969 business checks.
“I want people to know we’re not just riding around in our cars all night. We’re getting out of our cars, shining our lights and looking in windows. We don’t rattle door handles, though; we don’t want to set off any alarms,” said Bolen. “We’re trying to prevent breaking and entering, and give businesses owners some peace of mind.”
Another goal of Bolen’s is the return of the bike patrols, especially during events like parades, the VFW Gun Show and Flea Market, and the monthly concerts and cruise-ins in the summer months.
“The bikes save gas, reduce wear and tear on the vehicles and allow us to get around easier in crowded situations. Plus, they are healthy for our officers,” he said.
Increased presence in the schools is also a priority for Bolen.
“We’ll have officers at the crosswalks, and we’ll be walking through the schools, even taking time to eat lunch there sometimes. It’s just a way to give parents a peace of mind while their children are at school,” he said.
Although Bolen says he would be implementing these programs no matter what locality he was serving, he says it’s even more important since he is a Carroll County native.
“I love where I come from. I see the public every day, and I want them to have the feeling they can approach me about whatever is on their minds. You get a good sense of how you’re doing if people greet you and call you by name,” said Bolen. “This town has grown, but we should keep in mind the things that have helped make us successful.”
“It’s important not to just get the job done, but how we get the job done. We often see people at their worst, but you can still treat them with kindness, fairness and professionalism. If you do it that way, I don’t think you can go wrong.”