Newton Police celebrates National Police Week by focusing on community

Staff Writer

Since former Newton Police Chief Don Brown became Catawba County’s Sheriff, there’s been a few changes at the Newton Police Department.

Vidal Sipe, formerly of Hickory’s Police Department, is chief.

Major Tim Hayes, who’s served for 26 years and four months, shared a bit of what’s going on with the department recently.

Right now, there are 34 full-time officers and one part-time officer serving.

Hayes says the atmosphere at the department is “very upbeat and positive.”

He attributes many positives to the new chief.

“We’re progressing,” Hayes said. “We have new ideas, thoughts, and ways of doing things. Chief Sipe looks at things with a fresh pair of eyes.”

The department held its first East Newton Community meeting this past Thursday. It was held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Ervin Avenue.

“We want to be a sounding board and listen to the community’s concerns,” Hayes shared. “We want to listen to their concerns and to help in their everyday lives.”

He said some other ways of helping are by sharing resources to help people get what they need.

“Communication is key,” Hayes said. “Open lines of communication creates respect.”

The citizens had varied concerns about parking, use of recreation facilities, and bringing in outside groups.

Along with the community meetings, Hayes said that the Newton Police Department has monthly staff meetings that address the crime rate and arrests made.

In April 2019, Newton’s crime rate fell four percent compared to April 2018.

Major Hayes said that when they become suspicious of a crime, officers explain the reasons and process behind the questioning instead of dictating.

“We explain why we do what we do so the individual can comprehend,” he said. “We don’t do things arbitrarily to harm.”

Hayes said that just because an officer stops someone it doesn’t mean they are going to jail.

“There’s no reason that law enforcement interactions can’t be positive,” he said.

Hayes said officers are human too.

“Every officer has a family,” he said. “That officer doesn’t go home at the end of the day and plug into a wall. They’re a husband, a wife, a father, a mother, a brother, a sister. They hurt and have compassion just like you do.”

Hayes says his department remembers the fallen officers and all they do to make communities safer.

“We all fall short of the Grace and we’re all human beings,” he said. “We don’t do this job for accolades-- we do it because we love the community.”

As for his fellow officers, Major Hayes spoke a special message.

“You are all appreciated and supported 100 percent from the chief all the way down. This is family to me. I spend more time here than I do with my own family,” he said.

“But take time for your families, because they’re your main support system. “