Mt. Juliet may be growing, but the crime rate is staying low

(Photo: WKRN)

MT. JULIET, Tenn. (WKRN) – Mt. Juliet’s police chief credits strategies to make officers visible and good community support for the low crime rate.

In 2017, police plan to increase their focus on closer relationships with teens and young adults.

Since 2010, the population of Mt. Juliet has grown by more than 27 percent, from 24,779 to 31,540 people, according to census data.

Chief James Hambrick, PHD, took charge of the department in 2012.

“One of the first things we did was change the core values of the department. We put the focus on courage, competence, commitment, compassion and integrity,” he said. “We say it all the time here that those are not suggestions.”

The department also changed how the city is divided for patrols. Before Chief Hambrick, the city was split into a north and south zone. Now the department is split into four zones and during the holidays a special fifth zone encompassing the Providence Marketplace area is added.

“We hear from people all the time that we have a lot of officers and that is because they are very visible, said Chief Hambrick.

Right now the department has 54 sworn officers and plans to add four more officers who are at the police academy right now.

Shoplifting tends to be the most common crime officers encounter in Mt. Juliet, but the number of incidents are down from 2015 to 2016.

“We make sure to take them to jail, we don’t hand out tickets and let them go,” Chief Hambrick said. “We make sure that there is an interruption of that behavior.”

An area of concern the city is facing, like the rest of Middle Tennessee, is the opiate epidemic.

Chief Hambrick is looking for grants to possibly train and outfit officers with the life-saving drug naloxone.