Cory Heffelfinger

New Auburn Police Chief Cory Heffelfinger is eager to continue building upon positive community relationships as he steps into his new role. Heffelfinger has been with the department since 1997.

AUBURN — Cory Heffelfinger has had many experiences in his law enforcement career.

He recently took on a new role in leading the Auburn Police Department, a few days shy of his 25th anniversary with the agency.

Heffelfinger, 46, studied criminal justice at Indiana State University and worked as a jailer at the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department. At 21, he joined Auburn’s department.

He was a K-9 officer for 10 years and was an undercover narcotics investigator for eight years. At different times, he was road supervisor of the detective division and oversaw the department’s reserve unit.

“I’ve had by far the luckiest career here at Auburn,” Heffelfinger said, looking back on his experiences. “I can’t complain a bit for what I’ve done here.”

While the new chief said the Auburn community has always been very supportive of the police department, one of his goals is to improve service to citizens.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Heffelfinger said. “I started here in 1997. Law enforcement during that time has changed tremendously.

“When I was hired, there was 123 applicants in my process,” he said. “In this last process, we had 18. That shows you the climate change within law enforcement.

“It’s very exciting but a humbling experience at the same time,” Heffelfinger said. “It’s something we have to try to keep improving to get professionals who want to come in and do the job, but not treat it as a job, but a true profession and be here 20-plus years and retire here.

“Right now, we have a great group of guys and girls who work very hard and do so many things behind the scenes when they’re off duty that people don’t necessarily see.”

In 2021, the department implemented a new body camera system. With a 26th full-time officer being hired this year, additional equipment will be needed. Heffelfinger also hopes to build the department’s reserve force closer to 10 individuals.

Another goal is to bring all county law enforcement agencies together for training.

“We’d like county officers from every department training together so that we know that everybody’s responding and training to the same thing,” he explained. “If we have a major incident or the protests that we had last year, that we are on the same page and able to work together.

“We’re on so many incidents. Whether it be on 69, we go out and help (the county); we know what they want us to do, we take care of it,” Heffelfinger said. “If we have a major incident in Auburn, and the county guys show up, Butler, Garrett, they know what we want to do.

“It makes everything work better together if everybody’s on the same page.”

The police department received a $278,000 grant to purchase a new armored vehicle that can be used in search and rescue operations as well as SWAT interventions. That unit should arrive in late 2022. Last year, police acquired a new piece of technology to enforce parking rules.

The new chief hopes to add another K-9 unit to the department with the promotion of Sean Miller to captain of the department.

The department has a drone unit that is used for building examinations and SWAT calls. Two officers are trained as drone operators. The SWAT team is comprised of 10 officers. Another officer is a full-time narcotics investigator. Heffelfinger also hopes to have more officers receive crime scene investigation (CSI) training.

The department’s golf outing — held in July each year — raises money for community outreach programs such as Shop with a Cop, teddy bears for children in car accidents and coloring books and crayons for children.

“My wife says I’m an extrovert. I’ll talk to anybody,” Heffelfinger said. “I’ve got so many contacts and resources around this area that if I don’t have an answer, I can reach out and call somebody. Honestly, I think that’s what I like the most.”

While the perception of law enforcement has evolved, he said the biggest changes have happened within the last two years.

“The great thing about Auburn, the vast majority of Auburn citizens are awesome. They really support the police department, which we really appreciate,” Heffelfinger said. “Just this last year at ACD, I had more people come up and thank us for what we do than I have in the 24 years before that.

“It was nice to see and feel that this community was awesome and came together and say, ‘We’ve got your back. We support you guys,’” he said. “We’re very lucky in that aspect.”

At a department meeting earlier this week, Heffelfinger laid out goals for the new year.

“The biggest thing is, we’re going to continue to provide the best service we can to the community.

“I told the guys and gals, ‘I want you to come to work and have fun. I don’t want you to be tight as a rubber band,’” he said. “‘Intermingle with people, have a smile on your face, provide a great service, watch each other’s back and make sure everybody goes home safe.’”

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