UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Law enforcement in both the City of Union, and Union County, are teaming up to make a difference.
“We try to do proactive work, going to communities. We don’t want our first encounter, in law enforcement, to be a bad one,” said Sheriff Jeff Bailey.
Members from both the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Union Police Department have formed a Community Action Team.
“We try to meet the folks and let them know that, you know, we’re here in your community trying to help you. We’re going to the businesses to educate them on what we’re trying to do. Then, we’re seen in the community and hoping that will help with some of the crime problems we’ve been having in these areas,” said Sheriff Bailey.
“We cover more ground, and it gives us exposure, the city guys exposure to county, and it gives county officers exposure to the city,” he said.
Police Chief Robbie McGee said these officers were specially selected for a special purpose.
“If you’ve been able to go into a store, or been able to go on somebody’s porch, or a basketball court and talk to somebody, then when you’re there for something bad then more people are more willing to sit down and talk to you,” said Chief McGee.
It’s not only to get to know people in the community, it’s also to perform acts of service. They aim to do community events, like clean-ups, around twice a month.
Sheriff Bailey said the idea came to them from Deputy Chris Patterson.
Their work doesn’t just stop at cleaning the streets, it goes into patrolling them, too.
“All we’re doing right now is we’re giving a lot of warnings. Basically, this is educational,” said Deputy Patterson.
Deputy Patterson said they’re giving out warnings during some routine traffic stops. 7NEWS did a ride along with Deputy Patterson on some stops.
“I’m going to check your license, get you on your way and write you a warning, okay? Just asking you to slow down for me,” said Deputy Patterson during a routine traffic stop.
As a bonus, they give out vouchers for free ice cream to children.
This is all in an effort to build trust with the people they serve.
“The sheriff’s office and city police department are here for them. We are here to work for them, we are here to help them, we want a safer community, we want a safer county, and we have to work together to get that,” said Chief McGee.