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Column: CPD continues to excel

Posted: August 13, 2018 4:41 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2018 1:00 a.m.

Last month, I addressed some of our 2016 concerns -- concerns in that election year. This month I’d like to share additional details concerning community safety and law enforcement community relations. You brought this topic forward, and your city council listened, your Camden Police Department (CPD) listened, and Camden communities listened. In the past two years the CPD has stepped up the game.

Our department is a community-oriented police force. The Community Oriented Policing Grant, initiated by Chief Joe Floyd, brought two full-time community outreach officers to Camden. These officers have allowed the entire department and our community to enhance public relations in all areas of our city. It has allowed the department to keep service related duties in synch with enforcement duties. That is a total win-win!

How, you ask? Our officers are visiting communities and engaging in safety and security talks. The “Neighborhood Crime Watch” program has increased and is making a difference. There has been increased media information, such as safety and security pamphlets, introduced, along with social media announcements. These has significantly connected individuals and families with local resources. The Use of Force Review Board, which includes citizen representatives, was created to ensure residents’ inputs regarding difficult incidents are heard. Please reach out to our police officers if you have concerns.

Going hand-in-hand with our Main Street USA program, the CPD designated a specific downtown officer. This officer’s presence includes visibility in the downtown area, mingling with residents, welcoming visitors, aiding with parking and traffic problems, and engaging with business owners. It is very reassuring for residents and visitors to encounter an officer surveying our downtown area.

Plus, the Police in the Parks outreach program this summer is another CPD success story. So far, your dedicated officers have hosted two events, with the next being scheduled for Aug. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in City Hall Park. Your city council hopes to see you there.

The community outreach is but one area in which the CPD has been improving. In 2015, there were 556 collisions in the city -- an unacceptable number. This figure proved to us that we needed to increase traffic enforcement on our city roadways to increase the safety of our citizens. With increased focus in traffic enforcement, the 2016 collisions were down to 516. Then, at the end of 2017, we saw the numbers reduced to 503. The decrease demonstrates that the roadway safety efforts are working!

Another initiative researched and acquired by the department is designed to gather traffic information and to remind drivers of limits and restrictions. Three new armored radar devices are nearly ready for deployment as part of the CPD tool kit. With sincere appreciation to Elgin, S.C., and their collaborative spirit of sharing their equipment in the past, we are delighted to have these new ones in our inventory. These Radarsign brand products are proven to assist with vehicular concerns. So, keep your eyes open, you will be seeing them very soon if you have not already seen them.

I cannot highlight DUI successes better than Chief Floyd does, “There are no excuses for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Persons who make this type of choice have always concerned us, as they show no concern for their own safety or that of others. We always allot time for special DUI enforcement annually, but these past couple years allowed us to increase those efforts. DUI arrests rose from 56 in 2016 to 90 in 2017. This means that 90 intoxicated drivers were taken off our Camden roadways. Our work was further rewarded as we won two Police SUV Interceptors for our DUI enforcement efforts! Everyone has probably noticed that two of our SUV Interceptors are black in color; marked, but black. These vehicles were awarded to us by the SC Law Enforcement Network.”

Vehicle larcenies are down from 2017. Many times these crimes are crimes of opportunity. You can help by being mindful to secure your vehicles and homes. Like many of you, growing up in the small city of Camden, we can be lulled into a sense of being safe and secure -- a great feeling, but, please, always be situationally aware and safe.

With the opioid epidemic reaching every community in American, CPD became part of the LEON grant, which allows law enforcement officers to receive the life-saving drug, Naloxone (Narcan). Five lives may have been saved with Narcan. CPD also researched and purchased body cameras before it became state law, via another grant they sought and obtained. These are but two forward leaning examples of their progressive use of grants to fund requirements.

Along these same lines, I hope you saw the recent announcement that Officer Karen DeVors has gained D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education certification). In addition, another recently received grant, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, will allow for the hiring and equipping of a dedicated drug investigator.

Many of our programs have been enhanced grants pursued by Chief Floyd and the Camden Police Department along with several other awards for their efforts.

Your city council is fully committed to the primary concern of the Camden Police Department, “protecting the lives of our citizens and officers.” We are so fortunate to have an engaging police department who truly are interested in what concerns you. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. They stand ready to assist. The council also hosts an open forum at the beginning of each city council meeting. Thank you. Your involvement helps our city grow stronger every day.

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