The Gaston County Police Department was created by Legislative Act on July 1, 1957 and began operation with a chief, a secretary and 23 sworn officers. At that time the Department was primarily responsible for providing police service to the unincorporated areas of the county. Since that time, however, additional duties and responsibilities have been given to the Gaston County Police. Today, the Department employs 136 sworn officers who provide police services to a community of approximately 90,000 residents and spanning an area of over 270 square miles that along with the unincorporated areas of Gaston County also includes providing police services to the incorporated towns of High Shoals and Spencer Mountain. In addition, the Department employs 94 civilians who provide 911 Communications and Animal Control throughout Gaston County.
Since its inception in 1957, the Department has continually grown stronger and more proficient. By 1991, the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) awarded accreditation status to the Department, making it the 190th internationally accredited police agency.
Office of the Chief
Chief Joseph Ramey (Office of the Chief) manages each division, which is commanded by an Assistant Chief or Director. Within each of the operating divisions are various units that carry out the Department’s operational and administrative functions. The Chief also directly manages all budgetary functions of the Department as well as the Professional Standards Unit and Planning and Analysis Unit.
Community Policing Division
The Community Policing Division is overseen by Assistant Chief George G. Osborne and is comprised primarily of uniformed officers assigned to one of four geographical areas known as zones. Each zone is commanded by a Captain. The officers assigned to each zone are further divided into squads that cover rotating 12-hour shifts and are supervised by a Sergeant. The Community Policing Division is responsible for controlling and preventing crime through regular patrols, answering calls for service, apprehending offenders, enforcing criminal and traffic laws, conducting preliminary investigations and working with the community to solve neighborhood crime problems. This Division also has two specialized patrol units: the K-9 Unit and a seasonal Marine Enforcement Unit, and two special response teams, the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Hazardous Device Unit (HDU), whose specially trained members are available 24 hours a day to assist in crisis situations.
The Investigations and Support Services Division is overseen by Assistant Chief Jay Human and is comprised of the Criminal Investigations (CIU) which includes the Crime Scene Search Unit, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and the Support Services Unit. The Criminal Investigations Unit is responsible for the investigation of major felony offenses, select misdemeanors, missing persons, unattended deaths, offenses involving juveniles and the processing of evidence. Property and Evidence is also included in this unit. The Special Investigations Unit is primarily responsible for narcotics investigations, but is also charged with investigating gambling and prostitution offenses. The Support Services Unit includes Educational Services, which provides School Resource Officers to County schools; Employee Development, which is responsible for employee training; Recruitment and Selection, which handles all aspects of the hiring process; Accreditation, which is responsible for maintaining all necessary information to maintain compliance with accreditation standards and Police Information Processing, which is primarily responsible for maintaining the Departments records and providing 24-hour access for both public and officer inquiries.
The Gaston County Police Department 911 Communications Division is under the command of Captain M. Shelor and is directed by 911 Communications Director. The 911 Communications Division is comprised of 53 employees covering 4 shifts, who provide 24-hour coverage of emergency 911 calls and radio transmissions. The Unit is charged with maintaining and operating the computer-aided dispatch system for police, fire and medical calls, as well as receiving both emergency and non-emergency calls for service. The 911 Communications Division provides telecommunications services for the Gaston County Police Department, Gastonia Police Department, Bessemer City Police Department, Cramerton Police Department, Lowell Police Department, Ranlo Police Department, Stanley Police Department, Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement, Gastonia Fire Department, All 26 County VFD’s and Municipal Fire Departments, Gaston Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) and all county volunteer rescue squads.
Animal Care and Enforcement
The Animal Care facility is administered by Dr. Kristine Blankenship, DVM, and the Animal Enforcement Unit is under the command of Captain Steve Jentsch. The Animal Care and Enforcement Division is tasked with providing animal control services and maintain the animal shelter for all of Gaston County. The mission of Animal Care and Enforcement is not only to enhance the safety of citizens, but also to ensure the proper care and treatment of animals. This is accomplished through animal-related services which reflect our professionalism and a concern for responsible pet ownership. Animal Control became a Division of the County Police Department on September 18, 1995 and later renamed to Gaston County Animal Care and Enforcement in 2015.