By Mimi Wood, Island Eye News Staff Writer
Just when you think life on Isle of Palms couldn’t possibly get any better, you meet IOPPD Officer Louise Hardy. Smart, approachable and engaging, Hardy has been in law enforcement for nearly seven years, with two years of active duty in the Navy and two years as a reservist in her wake.
As the Community Relations Officer, Hardy is the face of the police department. Her responsibilities include building relationships with residents, as well as addressing their concerns. “We want to get to know you,” and reciprocally, Hardy emphasizes, “we want you to get to know us.”
Hardy is an integral part of the planning process for the myriad of community events the IOPPD sponsors. She recently completed an islandwide series of local Meet and Greets. Other programs include Lunch Buddies and Kids & Cops, two mentoring programs with Sullivan’s Island and IOP children. Coffee with a Cop, a more informal meet and greet, is planned for later this spring. National Night Out, the Hurricane Expo, a Bike Rally, child car seat installations and inspections, snack drives…who knew?
Hardy has designed or refined all these programs and others, each intended to maintain and build upon the trust between the community and the IOPPD. “This community is amazing,” exclaims Hardy, pretty amazing herself. She knows islanders by name. She occasionally visits elderly residents. She stops to chat with a local WWII vet, when she sees him outside gardening. She’s creative, well-spoken, personable and energetic. But don’t think for a moment she’s not tough as steel when she needs to be.
A recent Meet and Greet held at the Public Safety Building found 15 residents, along with Councilmen Marty Bettelli and Jimmy Carroll, listening to a presentation by Hardy in her role as Crime Prevention Specialist. Attendance by Captains Kim Usry and Jeffery Swain, as well as a handful of other officers, and three new recruits, speaks to the cohesive environment of the IOPPD. Captain Usry perhaps summed it up best, proclaiming, “It’s a big team effort. Everyone works together to get what needs to be done, done.”
“Police involvement in the community is so important in crime prevention,” explained Hardy. “Locking your doors is the biggest deterrent,” she continued, with Bettelli echoing afterwards, “Please, please lock your cars.”
“Know your neighbors,” Hardy urged. “Don’t ever hesitate to call us,” she added, “it is never an inconvenience.” While recent crime statistics, (available online at the iop.net/police) have actually declined slightly, rental property crimes tend to fluctuate, and, as the the empty shelves at Harris Teeter on Saturday evenings attest, the season is upon us.
Hardy offered a variety of IOPPD services available to residents, including special patrol requests, parking permits (application available online); even a home evaluation, to suggest ways you may be pro-active in protecting your property. “Our website offers a wealth of information,” noted Hardy, re-iterating iop.net/police.
Additionally, stay current with Facebook (Isle of Palms Police Department) and Twitter (@ioppd) accounts.