Recently, the Hawthorne Police Department has debuted a series of expansions to their policing program, including an expanded bicycle program, a drone program, a K9 program and more. These programs now complement long-standing pillars of the HPD, like its premiere Coffee with a Cop initiative.
Coffee with a Cop creates space for cops and community members to discuss local issues over a cup of coffee. The event was created in the City of Hawthorne back in 2011 with the aim of facilitating open conversation with the community. Since its founding, local businesses throughout Hawthorne have provided neutral spaces for the event to take place. In the decade since, the Coffee with a Cop program has expanded to all 50 states and 15 countries around the world.
“The Hawthorne Police Department has carved out a distinctive track record of innovative policing,” said City Manager Vontray Norris. “Though Coffee with a Cop was only started in 2011, it’s already practiced around the world. Our new programs only further demonstrate how HPD is on the cutting edge of policing practices and technology.”
Though the HPD K9 program has been in operation since 1987 and is one of the biggest units in the South Bay, it is an area where the department continues to reflect upon and improve. Now, HPD is phasing out attack dogs in favor of bloodhounds, which specialize in detection and tracking. The department has also added a therapy canine to the roster of K9s. Currently, the unit is working with six working dogs that specialize in patrol, drug detection, bomb detection, tracking/trailing and facility management/therapy.
The HPD is also expanding their officer education with their new Tactical Medicine program. It initially began as a SWAT safety measure, but now, the entire HPD team is trained in trauma care and first aid. This medical education allows HPD members to offer medical help to citizens—often, before emergency medical services personnel can arrive—and has saved the lives of trauma victims, children with medical conditions, and overdose cases. Community members can also participate in the HPD tactical medicine program; hundreds of people from Hawthrone are now equipped to save lives.
Community education is also at the forefront of the HPD’s Ride to Live program. The course is co-sponsored by the HPD and the California Office of Traffic Safety, and is taught by certified police motorcycle instructors and Hawthorne, Torrance, El Segundo and Redondo Beach motor police officers. The course is a practical, hands-on training class open to motorcycle riders interested in enhancing their safety, improving their skills and learning law enforcement motor school techniques.
Another community resource offered by the Hawthorne Police Department is its four-hour interview workshop, offered four to six times every year. The interactive course is catered to people seeking any position or promotion, regardless of field, experience or career stage. The workshop’s panel of instructors is composed of Sergeants Craig, Kemp and Ceniceros. Each officer has extensive experience as an interviewer, and can provide extensive insight into the research, preparation and practice it takes to become a great interviewee.
The Hawthorne Police Department also established its Bicycle Patrol Unit (BPU) in 2020 in order to facilitate positive relationships with the community. The unit is used for regular patrols, traffic and parking enforcement, and plays a pivotal role in assisting persons experiencing homelessness. The BPU works in coordination with the Hawthorne Homeless Outreach Team and the Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse (L.A. CADA).
The HPD is also expanding its drone program. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), will use a combination of high-definition and thermal imaging cameras to provide initial scene information to police officers. These drones will often be used in order to respond to calls for police service before officers arrive. They are also used in search and rescue missions, as they have the ability to survey a vast area within a short time frame. Additionally, UAS are used to document evidence and crime scenes.
Learn more about Hawthorne Police Department programs and history at https://hawthornepolice.com/