By Larry Collins
Officials say that one Lowcountry city is making major headway in the fight against violent crime.
Numbers show that the City of Walterboro has something to be proud of when it comes to fighting crime and catching criminals.
“We haven’t had a homicide in the last 2 years. We haven’t had a homicide since November of 2010. So knock on wood if we can continue that trend that would be great,” Police Chief Otis Rhodes said.
Violent crime is down across the board in Walterboro. Rhodes says a series of community-based programs are largely to thank. One of the most successful programs is the “community contacts” initiative.
“Each officer is tasked with talking to someone in the community. If they see someone out in their yard doing gardening, they stop and tell who they are, where they work and why we’re there,” Rhodes explained.
“It’s a way for the officer to get out of the car and meet the residents and have face-to-face contact. That person would feel comfortable enough if they were having problems. They will know an officer that they can call and talk to on a 1-on-1 basis,” Rhodes said.
Officers also use church involvement, a gun buy-back program and a school mentoring program.
“Some of the guys coach baseball and tee-ball and football. We just try to get more involved with the kids at a younger stage,” Rhodes said.
Chief Rhodes says that property crimes are the next challenge. The economy is not helping that battle. He and his team are working on new plans and initiatives in that area.