Beyond the Badge: North Judson PD uses big toolbox of resources to keep town safe
NORTH JUDSON, Ind. -- On this week’s Beyond the Badge, we’re traveling to the North Judson Police Department, located in Starke County to show how a small-town department’s big toolbox of resources helps keep the community safe.
Deputy Chief Rico Simpson is one of four full-time officers, serving as Deputy Chief and K-9 Officer. The department covers about 1 sq. Mile and serves just over 1,700 people.
“I became a canine handler about four years ago,” Deputy Chief Rico Simpson said. “Jimmy has a sense of security. I know I'm safer with him back there. He's an asset to the department. He’s got numbers of narcotics arrests. He's my partner, my best friend.”
“I wanted to be a police officer since I was young. My father was a firefighter and he served his community and I used to tell stories about saving people and putting out fires and stuff like that. And I wanted to do the same.”
Simpson said he thinks the biggest problem in the area is drug use.
The staff at North Judson PD is small, but the resources aren’t.
“Our closest backup is sometimes 20 minutes away,” Simpson explained.
The department just got the greenlight this week to add a Tesla squad car to the fleet. It’s something you don’t see every day, especially in a town of less than 2,000.
They also have two K-9s, which is unheard of for departments like this.
“I'm pretty fortunate to have my police canine if stuff really got bad, he would have my back. But yeah, it's pretty scary knowing that the closest police help is 20 minutes or more away.”
For North Judson, being present in the community is a big part of the job.
“No day is exactly the same,” he said. “Part of my routine is I enjoy stopping at the school for drop offs.”
Students also get a chance to see K-9 Jimmy.
“After that, I patrol, I look for crimes in progress. I respond to calls for service and I do traffic enforcement.”
Rico said simply being present in town helps to keep the community safe.
“It's important because I believe officer presence makes people think twice about you know, stealing from the store. You know, committing these crimes out on the road. It keeps the road safe. People normally stop at stop signs; they drive close to the right speed. And I believe that it makes the streets safe as well.”
Rico also spends time throughout the day training K-9 Jimmy.
“If you're not sharpening these tools every day then they're not going to work when you need them to.”
For Rico, serving the North Judson community is rewarding and he’s thankful for their support.
“I really like the community policing. I like interacting with the community. The community is very supportive of our police department and it feels like home here.”