State News

Bridging The Gap Between Law Enforcement and The Community

In our first part of this article we mentioned the few Bad Apples from a long proud history to protect the citizens of South Carolina. It’s not unrealistic to say that the tension between Law Enforcement Officers and the communities in South Carolina are at it’s best tense.

Several Agencies and Departments have tried to bridge this Gap with programs showing that Officers are there for the people they serve. And that many Law Enforcement Officers go above and beyond to give back to their communities with outreach programs, summer camps for kids, aid to the elderly, education programs, etc..

Here is a list of some of those programs and the Departments that offer them:

Rock Hill Police Department

The Worthy and Boys Girls Camp (https://www.cityofrockhill.com/departments/police/more/police-department/worthy-boys-and-girls-camp) :

The camp has been in existence since 1949 when 48 acres was donated to  the Rock Hill Pistol Club for a training and firing range. The donation came with the stipulation that a camp for kids had to be developed. The first camp opened that very same year and has been in almost continuous operation since that time. In 1995, the camp became The Worthy Boys and Girls Camp. The camp runs 5 weeks throughout the summer alternating from Boys to Girls weeks. The Police Department runs the camp, maintains the camp grounds, and officers are the counselors. All campers are selected from applications that are received with many returning year after year. This camp is usually the campers only vacation during the summer as many campers come from homes where vacations just are not feasible. Every camper comes free of any charges as we hold a yearly fundraiser to cover all costs of operation. Visit the link provided to see more about the camp.

Plentiful Harvest Kitchen: Officers work at Covenant Presbyterian Church to prepare meals, distribute meals, and clean up after for the Feed the Hungry Outreach. There is a limited number of slots for volunteering that often fills within minutes.

Habitat for Humanity: Each year officers and staff work to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity around York County. Some of our volunteers have backgrounds that allow for more skill labor to be provided really helping the projects get completed.

Special Olympics: Yearly, we partner with Special Olympics to raise money to help athletes train and travel to compete. We use unique methods such as No Shave November where staff donates to avoid shaving for the month but all the proceeds are for Special Olympics and work as waiter/waitresses at local restaurants where  a percentage of the bills and tips go the Special Olympics.

York County Library: We have a partnership with the library where staff goes over and plays Chess, video games, board games, or Nerf wars. These events are huge and adults and children alike show up to participate.

H.E.L.P. : H.E.L.P. (Helping Everyone Live Productively) is a collaborative effort between RHPD and various agencies within our community. Together, this organization will be able to assist citizens of Rock Hill who have had repeated documented calls for service from the same residence. When a residence has been identified, the H.E.L.P. team will meet with the residents and offer services that may lead to a more productive lifestyle for the family unit and improve the well-being of all involved, which should ultimately reduce the need for police assistance. Repeated incidents of Domestic Violence, Disorderly Conduct, alcohol/drug related issues and other related non-violent incidents are indicators that the H.E.L.P. team would consider in reaching out to provide assistance.

A representative from the RHPD Community Services Unit will compile the necessary information from incident reports and other documentation to determine possible services for those in need. The H.E.L.P. team will meet with the residents to discuss the issues and offer assistance. The H.E.L.P. team will consist of representatives of RHPD, Victim Advocates, Chaplains, Keystone, Catawba Mental Health, SC Works, SC Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, and other agencies as needed. This collaborative effort aspires to provide quality services with the goal of improving the quality of life for citizens of Rock Hill.

Richland County Sheriff’s Department

Community Action Team: C.A.T. members, through constant, reliable participation in community activities become well known to community leaders, civic and religious groups, and other neighborhood organizations. They become a trusted, dependable advocate for their community.

Citizens Academy: The mission of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Citizen Police Academy Program is to educate and inform the community; to provide a forum for police – community interaction; to identify community problems, needs and concerns; and to foster a partnership with the community that will solve problems and work toward creating a safer environment.

Project Hope: Under Project H.O.P.E., these dedicated workers call and visit senior citizens and disabled citizens each month. Other Volunteers make weekly calls to everyone. This is another way of staying in touch, and to find out if there is anything we can do for them. These retired law enforcement officers also visit many senior centers, numerous church, and community groups

Helping Our Precious Elderly is something we feel very strongly about. Without the efforts, knowledge, commitment, and expertise of our senior citizens, the remainder of the population would not be enjoying the freedom and lifestyle they have become accustomed to. Our seniors built this country, fought for this country, and love this country. So now it’s our turn to fight and care for them.

Summer Camps:

Stars of Tomorrow Camp – For rising 3rd – 5th graders Character Camp – For rising 6th – 7th graders

Fun with Forensics Camp – For rising 5th – 8th graders Sports Camp – For rising 7th – 9th graders

Leadership Camp – For rising 8th – 12th graders Basketball Camp – For rising 9th – 12th graders

Columbia Police Department:

Beyond the Badge: The Columbia Police Department’s Beyond the Badge Program is an initiative developed by Deputy Chief Melron Kelly to help acclimate newly sworn officers to our community and the various resources available. Additionally, the mission becomes a combined effort among law enforcement and community members. Through community interactions that service projects produce, the law enforcement focus encourages civic responsibilities that embraces a broader perspective and deeper knowledge of those that live, work and visit the City of Columbia. All of these efforts bridge the gap between officers and the communities served.

Fan the Heat: Since its inception in 1995, the Columbia Police Department’s Fan the Heat program has assisted more than 7,000 Columbia citizens. The program was established to assist individuals who are most vulnerable to the heat: senior citizens, residents with medical concerns or disabilities and families with young children. Throughout the summer, the department collects fans, air conditioners and financial contributions, specifically to help those in need. These items can be dropped off annually.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Citizens must be 55 years-old or older
  • Citizens must provide name, address, telephone number (to ensure that the fan or air conditioner is delivered to the correct address)

Exceptions:

  • Individuals with respiratory problems or a major illness can bring in a doctor’s statement regardless of age to receive assistance.
  • Families with young children

For assistance from the Fan the Heat program, call the Columbia Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit at 545-3555 or Telephone Response Unit at 545-3500.

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These are only some of the many Law Enforcement Departments and their Community Outreach Programs. Many within the Law Enforcement Community feel it is time to allow the communities they serve to get to know them, and in kind know the people of the communities they serve.

Reach out to your local Law Enforcement and inquire about their programs for community outreach and youth programs.

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