Henry Police celebrate 25 years of serving community

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

A lot has changed in a quarter-century for the Henry County Police Department.

For one thing, the county itself has seen its population nearly quadruple. The U.S. Census Bureau’s website gives 58,741 as the figure for 1990, while the 2014 estimate is 213,869.

It was shortly after that 1990 number was announced when the Henry County Board of Commissioners officially established the police department. The vote came Jan. 8, 1991.

The current commissioners at their Jan. 19 regular meeting recognized the 25th anniversary of the department, inviting the members of the previous board to join in the celebration. Former commissioners Dave Crawford and Jim Joyner (the chairman at the time) were on hand, while Andrew Calhoun sent a statement of appreciation in his absence. Some of the original members of the police department also attended.

Current HCPD chief Keith Nichols was one of those 58 officers, and he is one of the eight who are still with the department. He came as a patrol officer after working in Riverdale, and moved into the detective ranks within a year of his arrival.

Nichols understands the significance of the January anniversary date, although he has a slightly different perspective.

“For me the anniversary is June 7,” he said, referring to the day he and his colleagues actually began patrolling the county’s streets. Most of those officers came over from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, which up to that point had police duties in the unincorporated county as well as Stockbridge. Hampton, Locust Grove and McDonough have their own police departments.

The department’s growth has mirrored that of the county itself. Now Nichols oversees more than 200 officers.

The changes over the years have not only come with regard to size, but also to police work itself, especially in areas like technology.

“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time,” said Nichols.