HICKORY — Lenoir-Rhyne University has announced another partnership with the city of Hickory. This most recent initiative is between the University and the Hickory Police Department and will place officers on campus full time beginning in February. Other recent collaborations include improved crosswalks and enhanced lighting around campus.
The HPD officers will join LR’s 10 security officers in providing 24-hour coverage to campus. The initial agreement between LR and the HPD features a three-year contract with up to four HPD officers assigned full time to the LR campus beginning in February and fully staffed by August. In a corresponding move, the Security Department at Lenoir-Rhyne University is being renamed the Department of Public Safety.
“The safety of our faculty, staff and students is one of our highest priorities at Lenoir-Rhyne University,” said LR President Fred Whitt. “We have enjoyed a very safe campus, and we want to be proactive in further enhancing the safety, welfare and security on campus. This is another example of the improved partnerships and initiatives we are developing with our broader community and a special thank you to Hickory Mayor Hank Guess and City Manager Warren Wood. These officers will get to know our students, faculty and staff, and become integral members of the LR community and family.”
Officers selected to be stationed at LR will be veteran and highly trained members of the department. The yet-to-be-identified officers will still reside within the HPD chain of command, however, they’ll partner with the Department of Public Safety on campus to patrol campus and the surrounding area regularly, provide increased security at events, and answer calls as needed.
“We are excited about this partnership with LR to make the campus as safe as it can possibly be for students, staff, and visitors,” said Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant.
In a report by the National Center for Education Statistics, crimes on college campuses nationwide decreased 32 percent from 2001-16. By adding this element to the Department of Public Safety, and the recent addition of additional lighting on campus, LR is working to enhance the student experience, one of the initiatives of the University’s new five-year strategic plan, which was released last summer.
“We want to make sure everyone is as secure and safe as possible,” said Norris Yoder, director of security for LR. “Just the presence of an officer is a deterrent for a lot of things.”