POWDERSVILLE — Communication in neighborhoods is key to good law enforcement and new ways of reaching out to people is helping the Anderson County Sheriff’s office.
That is a major emphasis Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper put to members of the Powdersville Business Council last week. He was the guest speaker of the group.
Skipper maintains he has used unique law enforcement tactics since early days of his career as a law enforcement investigator in Richland County.
He has served in a variety of investigative and financial roles of law enforcement administration since coming to Anderson in 1989. He was elected sheriff in 2009 and runs unopposed for a second term in next week’s election.
After taking office he and his staff organized Anderson County into four regions with a captain assigned to each region. All law enforcement shifts work countywide under the supervision of one of the captains throughout the day. “That has required a lot of communication between the captains so everyone knows what is going on,” Skipper said. “What it (the organizational structure) does is gives a person who has a problem somebody to talk to. If you have an emergency you need to call 911.”
Other problems can go to one of the captains.
“That way they know what is going on in their neighborhood,” Skipper said. “What should happen is that they (the captains get together) formulate a plan and come to me with it.”
That organization is one of the different ways that Skipper maintains he improves communication with communities and makes improvements.
Skipper also makes use of statistics to aid law enforcement.
“We have a crime analysis person who watches the numbers,” he said. ‘If she sees an increase in break ins in a neighborhood, we send the catch team over to check it out.”
They stop and talk to people learning “who is in your neighborhood when you are not there,” Skipper said. He demonstrated using members of the crowd how that discussion can help develop leads in the department’s investigation of the series of break ins.
“While the catch team is in that neighborhood, crime there drops, but it might go up in another area. So the catch team can move over there,” Skipper said. Then they may see similar things going on there that lead to clues.
Communication through Facebook has been “one of the best things we have done lately,” Skipper said. “That has led to lots of clues.”
Before the advent of cell phones, a car wreck in Anderson County on average produced three calls from land lines to the 911 Emergency Center, said the sheriff.
Since the arrival of cell phones, the 911 center gets three land line calls and 15 mobile calls on average per car wreck.
“In the near future, we’ll have the capability to receive text messages to the 911 center.” That is expected to produce 50 text messages on average per call.