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Home  |  News  |  Sheriff's Department receives National Recognition for excellence

Sheriff's Department receives National Recognition for excellence
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott is proud to announce that the National Sheriff’s Association has selected and awarded the Richland County Sheriff’s Department as a 2012 Neighborhood Watch Award of Excellence recipient.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that National Sheriff’s Association President, Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald, presented the award during the Association’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee, today. The Sheriff stated that the award is sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, US Department of Justice and presented for building partnerships with communities and businesses which in turn creates large numbers of crime watches; that improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. The award is presented as a National recognition to Departments that set high standards for excellence and are a model for other agencies to follow.

Sheriff Leon Lott added that the National Sheriff’s Association sponsored two Deputies from the Sheriff’s Department to travel and receive the prestigious award on behalf of the Department (a photograph of Captain Chris Cowan and Lieutenant Rafael Gonzalez with Sheriff Fitzgerald is attached to this release).

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the award was submitted by Mr. Gordon Jones (President of Guardian Watch) and Tige Watts (Richland County Community Leader) on behalf of the Department (a picture of Mr. Jones, Capt. Cowan and Lt. Gonzalez is attached to this release – Mr. Jones was also an exhibitor at the conference) – part of that nomination is included below:


In 1998 newly elected Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott created the Department’s Community Action Team (C.A.T.) -- a group of 14 specialized, highly trained officers with the mission to create partnerships with citizens who previously did not trust law enforcement. The CAT objective is to improve the quality of life in our communities and solve problems. Through the leadership of Sheriff Leon Lott CAT has organized over 300 Neighborhood and Business Crime Watch organizations and constantly working to empower our citizens.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the C.A.T. Program (created for the sole purpose of “Building Unity in the Community”) stands ready to partner with every community and business in Richland County. The Sheriff has each C.A.T. member trained to provide FREE safety education, training and resources that will help reduce your chances of becoming the victim of a crime.

The C.A.T. program is far more than a mere extension of law enforcement; by using community oriented policing methods, each Region of Richland County has been assigned specific officers. In turn, these officers attend community meetings, and gather information about their particular areas and the area's special needs. The goals set by Sheriff Lott are for the CAT Deputies to act upon are education, awareness and enforcement. The CAT Deputies are also tasked with being a liaison between the community and the diverse divisions of policing within the Sheriff’s Department (Forensic Science, Investigation, Narcotics, Patrol ect.) so that they too can function in the best interests of the individual communities.

It is also the mission of the C.A.T. program to develop long term solutions for areas of Richland County with specific problems. This would include things as simple as conducting home and business security surveys, to developing strategies for ridding areas of drug dealers and other criminals.

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. The goal of the entire C.A.T. program is to give law enforcement its most powerful tool – “Unity in the Community” that we have sworn to protect and serve.


Sheriff Leon Lott constantly searches for innovative FREE partnerships that enable our citizens – recently he adopted a new partnership that will enable Community Action Team Deputies to leverage mobile technology for building stronger communities. The Sheriff was proud to announce on Feb. 24th, 2012 that once again the Richland County Sheriff’s Department is at the forefront of innovation – being chosen by Guardian Watch to be the National Pilot for the new technology that increases communication between citizens and public safety.

Sheriff Leon Lott believes that involved citizenry is the only way to successfully combat crime – Guardian Watch is one additional tool in the citizen/Sheriff’s Department arsenal that allows our citizens to use mobile devices or the web to alert us and neighbors to suspicious activities or emergencies. The Sheriff added that Guardian Watch is another way that citizens can provide deputies with critical information about criminal activity; including the GPS location of the activity.

“Guardian Watch™ is the first multi-platform application (app) in the country that lets you use your mobile device’s camera to report an emergency,” stated Sheriff Lott. The Sheriff added that the real time information can provide public safety officials with a view of the scene of the crime, fire, or medical emergency before they arrive.

Guardian Watch does not replace 911. The Sheriff stresses that it is imperative that citizens continue to report crimes in progress or suspicious activity using 911. The Sheriff stated that Guardian Watch provides a resource that will allow documentation, video and information to be delivered to public safety on issues that affect our quality of life (examples: graffiti, narcotics, suspicious vehicles, abandoned homes and vandalism). The Sheriff added that this is an extremely efficient and effective vehicle to continue to reduce crime in our communities.

If you, or someone you know, have any information regarding any crime, you are encouraged to contact Crimestoppers. You could earn a reward up to $1,000.

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