Department History

On July 28th, 1966, at a Special Meeting of the Laurel Park Town Council, Seldon Clark was sworn in as the first Chief of the Laurel Park Police Department (LPPD) along with officers Jesse Sain and Shirley Clark.  However, this was actually not the beginning of “policing” in Laurel Park.

 
In the very beginning…  The first council meeting of the newly incorporated Town of Laurel Park took place on June 20th, 1925, and the newly elected Council, consisting of Mayor Fuller plus Commissioners Wright, Willcooks and Gibbs, was sworn into office.  The second meeting of the Council took place nine days later.  At this meeting two locals, Avery Jones and Quay Tankersley, were sworn in as “police officers.” These “officers” patrolled the mountain, but they did not have authority to arrest folks for infractions of the law.  This remained the responsibility of the Henderson County Sheriff. 
 

Avery Jones protected “his mountain” by patrolling walking trails he carved for himself, all for a weekly salary of $20.00 ($272 in 2016 dollars).  He wore a “badge” and carried a cap pistol in a holster and an old .22 Derringer in the pocket of his overalls.  Local lore has it that Avery’s patrols up and down the mountain were also used to re-supply his customers with moonshine.  Another story told about Avery was the time he used his old derringer to shoot Mayor Fuller’s son who was walking home after an evening of revelry at the then infamous Poplar Lodge (Note:  the bullet was so old that it caused little harm!).  Avery was replaced and others followed in his footsteps through the next 35+ years. The Town kept this informal patrolling policy in place largely to provide the residents a measure of security, especially the part-time summer residents who were concerned about the welfare of their property during the off season.

In 1966, at the request of residents and the Laurel Park Civic Association, the Town Council agreed to adopt a more formal policy of law enforcement and voted to authorize the proper establishment of the Laurel Park Police Department with the jurisdictional powers permitted by the State.  Seldon Clark was hired as the Chief of Police.  After his retirement in 1974, he was following by Chief H. M. Staton, Chief H. Tyroff and Chief Donald Fisher.  Chief Fisher who retired in 2012, expanded the force from five members to nine, creating our “24/7” police department. Our current Chief, Bobbie Trotter, became Chief in 2012.  Chief Trotter came to the LPPD from the Hendersonville Police Department where she distinguished herself in various capacities as a detective, school resource officer and patrol officer.

LPPD today…  The LPPD Officers are responsible for the safety of residents, visitors, businesses and their property.  In addition to these duties, they assist surrounding law enforcement and fire departments. The department also sponsors a number of outreach activities designed to communicate with and educate residents on the services they provide through open house discussions at the Town Hall and Laurel Park HOA meetings. These services include the “house check program” to monitor homes while residents are absent (forms can be filled out at Town Hall or on the Town Website), Aging in Place, Community Watch Neighborhoods, Reassurance Procedures for at Risk Residents; and Security Assessments for Residents and Businesses.

Perhaps the single greatest difference between today’s LPPD and the Department of 50 years ago is the required level of officer training and the level of cooperation between the LPPD and other law enforcement agencies.  Annually, each officer must attend a series of classes totaling 28 hours of instruction mandated by the State of NC on a variety of topics including firearm proficiency and updates to the laws impacting their duties in law enforcement.  Three officers hold State Instructor Certifications allowing the LPPD to hold training locally.  In North Carolina, there are three levels of Law Enforcement Certification available from the State: General; Intermediate; and Advanced Certificates. Each level carries a required amount of training hours, years of service, and education. Since 2012, all 14 Laurel Park officers have completed the requirements of a General Certification; two officers meet the requirements of an Intermediate Certification; and four have achieved the Advanced Certification.

Looking toward the future… Chief Trotter and the members of the department will continue to be focused on serving the community and furthering their education and training. The entire department believes in Community Policing, which means that they subscribe to ethical policing. Their viewpoint consists of full service personalized policing and working in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems.