Greenville County Council gives green light for citizen advisory board

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office is taking next steps to improve community relations between deputies and the public.

Protests across the country have brought attention to the relationship between law enforcement and the community. Now, Greenville County Council has passed a resolution to improve communication.

“I mean we hope it builds a bridge between law enforcement and community members,” Sheriff Hobart Lewis said.

Lewis said the unanimous vote shows council is on board with the creation of a citizen advisory board.

“We also wanted to ask them to take one person from each council district and nominate them to be on this advisor committee,” Lewis said.

Those appointed to the board will have an opportunity to see how the sheriff’s office operates.

“So they can kind of see what law enforcement in this area goes through and what kind of equipment we have and why we have what we have,” Lewis said.

What they can’t do? Hold subpoena power or review disciplinary issues.

“I think it’s really irresponsible to be quite honest to ask citizens to come in and judge our policies and procedures and how we enact them,” Lewis said.

But some activists are not on board.

“I’m appreciative of the attempt, but we definitely need to go back to the table,” activist Bruce Wilson said.

Wilson said without any real power, the board is useless.

“But at least the board should be able to have disciplinary review, without that what’s the point,” Wilson said.

He said there are already people in the community who do what this board is meant to do.

“All they’re doing is making a recommendation, well we have community activists we have pastors that make recommendations now,” Wilson said.

In addition to disciplinary review, he’d like to see a board where members have some control over funding for the sheriff’s office.

“We need someone to have oversight of law enforcement. We do not need the police to police themselves. That’s what the problem is,” Wilson said.

The sheriff says he expects this advisory board to come together within the next several weeks. He encourages anyone who is interested to get in contact with their county council member.

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