The Investigations Division is comprised of the Criminal Investigations Unit (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, 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 Department's records and providing 24-hour access for both public and officer inquiries.
The Criminal Investigations Unit is comprised of a captain, two sergeants, six criminal investigators, four crimes scene investigators, and a forensic computer investigator. This unit conducts all major case investigations handled by the Department, investigates computer crimes, and processes all major crime scenes. In addition, the unit also oversees case management for all cases assigned to officers. Also included in this unit is the GIS Crime Analyst.
The Special Investigations Unit conducts investigations that focus on the sale and possession of illegal drugs, gambling, illegal alcohol sales and prostitution. The SIU consists of a captain, two sergeants and six investigators.
The Support Services Unit includes the Educational Services Unit, which provides school resource officers to all Gaston County high schools, the alternative school, and three middle schools, the Police Records Unit, Professional Standards and Property and Evidence Units, Employee Development Unit, Recruitment & Selection Unit, and Accreditation and Victim Witness Units. Support Services also supervises the Citizen Police Academies and Explorer Post.
The Educational Services Unit is comprised of fourteen (14) full-time School Resource Officers (SRO). The SRO's are assigned to each of the ten (10) County high schools plus Warlick Alternative school, Mountain Island Charter and Piedmont Community Charter School. The SRO Program for middle schools also places off-duty officers at WC Friday, Stanley Middle School and John Chavis Middle School. Additional off-duty police officers were placed at WA Bess, Tryon, Costner, Chapel Grove, New Hope, North Belmont and HH Beam elementary schools as part of a grant acquired by the Gaston County School System in 2014. SRO's primary duties are to ensure a safe school environment conducive to learning, act as a counselor in law-related issues and act as a teacher of subjects related to law enforcement. The Department continues to partner with Gaston County Schools, implementing programs and courses aimed at keeping students and staff in a safe learning environment.
The Records Unit operates twenty-four hours a day. The main responsibility of the Records Unit is to maintain, store and retrieve police records. Records Unit staff often serve as the first voice and contact encountered on behalf of the Department. The Unit is available to provide access to the Department's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) files as required and to provide information and services to residents, Department personnel and other local law enforcement agencies as requested.
The Professional Standards Unit is tasked with investigating complaints made against any Police, Animal Control or Telecommunications employees and reports directly to the Office of the Chief of Police. In addition to these duties, the Professional Standards Captain also supervises the Property and Evidence Unit, Employee Development Unit, Recruitment & Selection Unit, Accreditation and Victim Witness Unit, and the Crime Analyst/Planner.
Property and Evidence
The Property and Evidence Unit is responsible for the storage and maintenance of all items seized by the Department during criminal investigations. In order for an item of evidence to be admissible in court, its "chain of custody" must be maintained. This means the evidence must be housed in a secure area, and each person having contact with the evidence is documented. This information is used later at trial to show the item is in the same condition as it was when it was first collected. To accomplish this goal, the Unit has one sworn officer in charge of the evidence room. Each item of evidence is logged and classified using a barcode tracking system. Once a criminal prosecution has been completed, the evidence must be returned to the rightful owner, destroyed or forfeited, depending on the disposition of the charges and the type of property seized. Illegal contraband is always destroyed regardless of the disposition of the criminal charges.
Employee Development and Training Unit
The Employee Development and Training Unit is responsible for ensuring that all officers and employees receive all initial mandatory and specialized training required to perform their jobs. This unit has one officer and non-sworn employee who provides administrative support.
Recruitment and Selection Unit
The Recruitment and Selection Unit is responsible for recruiting applicants, receiving and reviewing incoming applications, scheduling and conducting candidate interviews, completing background investigations and screening applicants through relevant job-related testing.
Accreditation & Victim Witness Coordinator Units
The Gaston County Police Department received initial accreditation in 1991 and was most recently accredited in 2017. The Department is currently operating under the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) 5th edition that contains a total of 481. The CALEA accreditation program requires agencies to comply with standards in four (4) primary areas: policy and procedures, administration, operational procedures and support services. The Department's compliance with these standards is assessed every three (3) years.
Victim & Witness Coordinator
The Victim & Witness Coordinator provides referral assistance to victims and witnesses of all types of crimes and traumatic incidents. Services offered through the Department may include emotional support, ensuring victims are informed of their rights and assistance in finding and obtaining appropriate resources.