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Home  |  News  |  Bringing safety closer to home

Bringing safety closer to home
Monday, April 30, 2012

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC - The Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s Community Action Team has a new home.
Sherriff’s officials and community members recently joined representatives from the Village at Sandhill, where the new headquarters is housed, for a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony.

The new 2,000-square-foot headquarters, next to JC Penney, is hoped to give the department more visibility in growing Northeast Richland and the public more convenient access to deputies. Eventual plans include using a community room next to the office to offer safety classes on topics like robbery prevention, workplace safety and Crime Watch, among others.

The department’s Community Action Team tries to build relationships in communities to improve the quality of life.

Lt. Rafael Gonzalez of the Community Action Team spoke recently about the Village at Sandhill opening and its expected benefits.

What will be the functions of this new facility?

Gonzalez: “The new CAT headquarters will make it possible for us to conduct all of the Sheriff’s Department functions — from taking reports to questioning witnesses or suspects, or talking with victims if needed. The advantage of having an office at the Village at Sandhill is that you are a community within a community, and a large percentage of the Richland County population visits the shops some time or another.”

Will it be open for walk-in traffic for such things as reporting crimes?

Gonzalez: “Yes, we will be open for walk-in traffic. We just want to remind the public that we don’t have specific hours. Some days we may be open as early as 9 a.m., others maybe at 3 p.m., depending on our efforts to prevent crime, capture criminals or create new partnerships on that day.”

What do you think will be the facility’s biggest benefits to the community?

Gonzalez: “We believe the biggest benefit we will have at the new location is the location. The CAT team’s main function is to partner and organize Crime Watch groups throughout Richland County — the objective being to have a Crime Watch in every neighborhood.”

And what about benefits to the Sheriff’s Department?

Gonzalez: “It will bring them to us. We will have educational material, information on neighborhoods and CAT representative right there. Anyone and everyone will be welcome to visit and talk shop.”
What are some of the general benefits to building community relationships and how you have seen some of those benefits play out over the years?

Gonzalez: “When the sheriff started the CAT team in 1998 there were 17 Crime Watches in Richland County. Today we have over 300 neighborhood and business Crime Watch groups. We have grown tremendously and now being part of such a large business community such as Sandhill we only plan to continue to exceed our goals.”
Citizens can stay connected with the CAT team and can access important information about crime prevention, free safety training and community resources at www.rcsd.net.

Source: http://www.thestate.com/2012/04/30/2256110/bringing-safety-closer-to-home.html

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