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 153 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 117 civilians who provide 911 Communications, Animal Care and Enforcement and law enforcement support services 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.
Chief Stepen Zill is responsible for the overall operation of the entire department, which is broken down into major divisions: Community Policing Division, Investigations Division and Communications and Animal Care and Enforcement Divisions.
The Community Policing Division is overseen by Assistant Chief S.V. Jentsch and is comprised primarily of uniformed officers assigned to one of four squads. Each squad is commanded by a captain. Officers work rotating, twelve-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 investigations and working with the community to solve neighborhood problems.
Also included in this Division are the:
- K-9 Unit
- Community service officers
- A seasonal Marine Enforcement Unit
- Reserve officers and two specialized response units:
- Emergency Response Team
- Hazardous Devices Unit
The Investigations and Support Services Division is overseen by Assistant Chief M. K. Shelor. The division is comprised of the Criminal Investigations Unit, Special Investigations Unit, Support Services Unit and the Professional Standards Unit.
The Criminal Investigations Unit, which includes the Crime Scene Search Unit, is responsible for investigating violent crimes, missing persons, unattended deaths, offenses involving juveniles and the processing of evidence. This unit also includes the GIS Crime Analyst.
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 the Educational Services Unit, Employee Development and Training Unit and Recruitment and Selection Unit.
The Professional Standards Unit includes the Records Unit, Accreditation Unit, Victim/Witness Coordinator Unit, Property and Evidence Unit and the Crime Analyst/Planner.
The Communications and Animal Care and Enforcement Divisions are overseen by an Assistant Chief.
The Communications Unit provides 24-hour coverage of emergency 911 calls and radio transmissions. A captain serves as the Communications Division commander and is charged with maintaining and operating the computer aided dispatch system for police, fire and medical calls within Gaston County.
The Animal Care and Enforcement Unit is divided into two supporting operations: Animal Care and Enforcement's Shelter Operations and Animal Care and Enforcement's field operations. A captain commands the Field Operations, which is responsible for responding to animal-related calls for service, enforcing animal-related laws and ordinances, investigating animal cruelty and neglect cases and reporting animal bites.
A licensed veterinarian serves as administrator for the Shelter Operations, which is responsible for receiving, housing and caring for animals brought in by the Animal Enforcement program and those surrendered by Gaston County citizens.
One man is in custody following an animal abuse investigation. Read on...
On Saturday, November 18th, 2023, the Gaston County Police Department’s Drone Unit was activated to assist in a search for a missing, endangered juvenile. Read on...
The Gaston County Police Department has charged George Aviles, 27, with attempted murder following an investigation of an incident that occurred on October 14, 2023. Read on...