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Home  |  News  |  Sheriff partners with Word of God Church and Ministries - continues success of youth programs‏

Sheriff partners with Word of God Church and Ministries - continues success of youth programs‏
Friday, October 4, 2013

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC - During a press conference today, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced a new partnership with “Word of God Church and Ministries” located at 119 Diamond Lane, Columbia, SC 29210. The Sheriff stated this new relationship with the church will help continue the success of the many youth intervention programs that currently exist at the Sheriff’s Department.

With Sheriff Leon Lott’s tremendous passion for creating success for our youth and their parents, he has entered into a partnership with the church who is providing a new home for the Youth Services Division of the Department. The Sheriff believes that creating opportunities for accountability and communication between our youth, parents, service organizations and deputies will in turn provide our youth with the chance to compete in the world. To this end, Sheriff Leon Lott has created multiple resources and programs that will support our children and their parents on the path to becoming the future leaders of our communities.

Sheriff Leon Lott is proud of the extensive programs and efforts he has put in place to help deter our youth away from crime and to intervene on their behalf and during the press conference families who successfully completed some of the Departments intervention programs spoke out. The families spoke about the READY, Next Steps and Youth Arbitration Programs and how important the programs are to their family and the new start they provided. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that intervention programs provide accountability and empowerment for kids and their parents to successfully navigate the troubled waters in the world.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the Youth Arbitration Program, READY Program, Crossroads Program, Next Steps Program and JUSTICE Program will all be housed at the “Word of God Church and Ministries” on Diamond Lane.

The Sheriff stated that the “Next Steps” program is one of the Youth Services Division Units that will have a new home at “Word of God Ministry” and is an example of the Sheriff’s vision and passion to help families. Sheriff Leon Lott introduced the program in January of 2012; which is designed to help empower parents and kids of all walks of life, and in all stages. The Next Step Program consists of intense educational workshops, along with family mediation sessions. The Sheriff added the program bridges together with other components/diversionary programs from the Sheriff's Department and the community. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the program is designed to walk families, step-by-step, from a troubled situation back to a solid foundation.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that another Youth Services Division Unit that will be housed at the church is the Richland County Educating, And, Deterring Youth (also known as The R.E.A.D.Y. Program). This program was introduced in 2008 for students displaying behavior problems. The students are brought by their parents to the Sheriff's Department and taken to an overnight stay inside of a jail cell located at 1701 Main Street in Columbia. Meanwhile, parents are at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Headquarters going through the Next Step program. The READY Program puts the youth through a reality or gut check of where they are headed – they receive counseling, are talked to by ex-inmates and go through rigorous physical fitness steps. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that it’s about saving our youth before the problem escalates; it’s about making the right decisions before they get into deeper trouble which could lead to jail or worse.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that another Youth Services Division Unit is the Youth Arbitration Unit which will also have their offices at the church. The overall intent of the program, which began in 2007, is to restore safety within the school and preventing at-risk students from entering the justice system. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department Youth Arbitration Program holds youth accountable for their crimes, puts them through counseling and community service projects and helps provide them the tools they need to be successful in life. The program is successful because of the 50 civilian of volunteer arbitrators. The program has been extremely successful with 1620 young people completing the program -- simply put; the second chance they are receiving is working. The Sheriff is committed to working on preventing crime, making sure that those who deserve to serve time in jail do so and that those who deserve a second chance get the support they need to be successful.

In 2008 the Sheriff introduced the Crossroads program for the purposes of providing a realty check for our kids – an opportunity to see the crossroads in their lives. The Crossroads program will also be housed at the Church and is designed to give our youth a "reality check" to the choices they are making against where they may end up; in jail or in the morgue. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that deputies and deputy coroners meet with the kids and talk with them about their future and how it will turn out if they don’t get on the right track. That they kids are at a crossroads in their lives and have to chose the right path.

The Sheriff added that the Department’s JUSTICE Program (juveniles, undergoing, supervised, temporary, instructional, community enforcement) will also be housed at the Church as well. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the JUSTICE program focuses on children that have been arrested and are awaiting court hearing; JUSTICE monitors the juveniles, work with the families on the court process, make recommendations to the court and work with the schools on keeping the kids in school and on the right track. The Sheriff believes that even after arrest our families and juveniles need support and resources to get back on track and be successful in life.   
  • For more information on the Next Step Program, contact Lieutenant Wendell Harris, Richland County Sheriff’s Department at (803) 576-1404 or http://www.rcsd.net/prog/next_step_brochure.pdf
  • If you’re interested in obtaining more information on the R.E.A.D.Y. Program or Crossroads Program please contact Sergeant Gerald Walls at (803) 576-1483.
  • For more information about the Youth Arbitration Program or to volunteer to be an arbitrator please contact Lieutenant Kim Myers at 803-576-1460 or kmyers@rcsd.net
  • For more information on the JUSTICE Program please contact Investigator Cassie Radford at 803-576-3474
The Sheriff concluded by saying that he is proud of the partnerships that the Department has built and grateful for the generosity of “Word of God Church and Ministry” for their support of making Richland County a better place to work, live, play and worship.

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