Sumter Mayor: Citizens have role in public safety

By JOSEPH MCELVEEN
Mayor of Sumter
Posted 2/18/18

At a recent City Council meeting, Police Chief Russell Roark reviewed the most recent crime statistics for our city. Under his leadership of an outstanding group of men and women, crime has come down almost 25 percent over the last seven years. …

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Sumter Mayor: Citizens have role in public safety

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At a recent City Council meeting, Police Chief Russell Roark reviewed the most recent crime statistics for our city. Under his leadership of an outstanding group of men and women, crime has come down almost 25 percent over the last seven years. However, crime increased overall by a small amount in 2017 (2.63 percent).

Murders were up by two, from three to five. One, a killing during the armed robbery of a Manning Avenue store, was a random act of violence. The other four resulted from criminal activity, including domestic violence. Even the best analysis and police work can rarely prevent crimes such as these.

On the other hand, crimes such as breaking and entering a vehicle and theft of a vehicle can be prevented. These property crimes are the real reason we had the increase in crime. Auto break-ins increased 12.71 percent and auto theft 12.9 percent. About 90 percent of vehicle break-ins and a high percentage of auto thefts occur when a car is left unlocked. These vehicle-related crimes can contribute to more violent crimes - in Sumter and beyond - because so many weapons are stolen from unlocked cars. So, if we citizens want to help Sumter Police Department reduce our crime rate, lock your car when you leave it and do not leave valuables in your car in plain sight (or your keys!). Remember: "Lock It Before You Leave It!" You will be hearing this a lot from Sumter Police Department.

The crime report (http://www.sumterpd.com/forms/ar17.pdf) also validates the tremendous efforts at all levels of Sumter Police Department to continue building relationships in the communities it serves, improve living and working conditions in our city and address issues that could hamper our progress as a community. Officers in our city go beyond what is considered traditional policing. They mentor young people inside and outside of local schools, assist elderly and disenfranchised populations and generally establish themselves as a caring part of our city. Our officers see themselves as citizens of Sumter, just like the rest of us; they just bear a badge. That badge represents honor, duty, service and protection. Our officers strive to live up to those standards every day. Sumter City Council knows that the most basic obligation of a city is to provide for the safety of its citizens. Without public safety, all the amenities are useless. What good is a park if you are not safe there? Sumter Police Department is charged with providing public safety, and its officers are fulfilling that commitment.

Sumter citizens are very supportive of our local department. However, as our officers do their best to protect and improve our community and establish relationships, we as citizens should help them when we can. Information from the public can not only help solve crimes, but it can also help prevent them.

One big way we can help that requires little effort is to remember something we should do anyway: "Lock it when you leave it." If you do, our crime statistics will in all likelihood go down this year.

Never miss an opportunity to tell members of our Sumter Police Department how much you appreciate their service. They risk their lives daily so that we can have a good quality of life in Sumter.