Stressing safety during the holidays

Dec. 12, 2012 @ 08:20 AM

In an attempt to make the holidays safer and more enjoyable, Lenoir Police Department will be conducting Operation Holiday Shield.
The initiative kicks off today and will last until after Christmas. Designed to be a collaborative effort between the police department and community,  it is geared toward preventing crime during the holidays.
The campaign, conducted by LPD for a number of years during the holiday season, will involve enhanced police activity and visibility at random times in and around retail establishments, financial institutions and residential areas in an attempt to deter criminal activity and improve highway safety. There will be utilization of covert police vehicles and equipment to detect and confront suspicious activity as well as rapid dissemination of crime prevention information and alerts to the public.
LPD Sgt. Todd Penley said at least three dedicated officers will be working on this project at various locations around Lenoir, including the downtown area.
“Officers will be in parking lots and stores to provide more visibility and an opportunity to interact with the public and provide a greater feeling of safety,” Penley said. “The effectiveness is from us being more visible. People with ulterior motives see us and change their minds. Plus, it creates a quicker response time for us if there is an incident.”
In order to make Operation Holiday Shield a success, officers with LPD are asking for assistance from citizens to keep communities safe.
Suspicious people or actions should be reported so they can be investigated by officers. People also are encouraged to keep their vehicles locked, remove keys from them, and secure valuables  and packages out of sight.
“We’ve seen this (operation) serve as a deterrent in years past,” LPD Officer Scott Kanupp said. “Don’t leave packages visible, make sure you secure your vehicle and park in well-lit areas. Also, don’t leave pocketbooks unattended in shopping carts.”
Officers also remind motorist to refrain from drinking and driving to avoid tainting the holiday season with a serious collision that could be prevented by avoiding alcohol consumption or using a designated driver.
More than anything else, officers ask citizens to report anything they determine may be suspicious, sort of a better safe than sorry approach.
“If you someone or something suspicious, go ahead and call,” Kanupp said. “Let us send an officer to check it out.”
For more information about Operation Holiday Shield, contact Lenoir Police Department at 828-757-2100.