Agreement with Sheriff’s office could provide law enforcement in Pelzer

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By Stan Welch
The Town of Pelzer’s efforts to provide at least some police protection to its residents gained momentum Tuesday night, following a presentation to the town council by Lt. David Baker, Anderson County Director of Emergency Management.
The Council had asked Baker to put together a proposal that would place a full time dedicated off duty deputy in Pelzer, working strictly inside the town limits. Baker put together such a proposal, but began his presentation by suggesting a more modest approach to start with.
He explained that one deputy on duty for forty hours a week, at an hourly rate of thirty five dollars an hour, would cost the town almost seventy three thousand dollars a year. He suggested having an off duty deputy on patrol for twenty four hours, reducing the cost to eight hundred forty dollars a week, or  just under forty four thousand dollars a year.
The hourly rate of thirty five dollars an hour includes the deputy’s pay, vehicle use, insurance, fuel and fringe benefits. The off duty deputies, who would sign up for the extra work on a first come, first served basis, would only respond to calls outside the town limits that involved shots fired, another law enforcement officer calling for immediate backup, or an equally serious situation.
“We won’t have officers riding out River Road to take a report on a stolen lawnmower. We will vet the officers seeking this assignment and assure that they will take an aggressive, proactive approach to law enforcement in Pelzer. They will also be in the cruiser patrolling, not sitting in an office somewhere waiting on a call.”
Town residents will call 911 as usual, and central dispatch will dispatch the particular deputy assigned to Pelzer. In addition, said Baker, the deputy routinely assigned to the Pelzer/Piedmont region will also be on duty. Baker’s suggestion called for a deputy on duty beginning at 4 P.M. on Thursday until midnight, the period he says is the busiest in terms of calls received.
He added that the same hours should be observed on Friday and Saturday nights as well, but conceded that the schedule could be adapted based on the Council’s wishes. Mayor pro tem Mike Matthews informed the dozen or so onlookers that the funds for the more modest proposal were available in the professional services part of the current budget. Both he and Baker offered the possibility of budgeting for the larger amount during the budget process for next year.
Baker also touted the potential benefits of the proposal in helping to attract businesses and investment to the town. Current proposed projects have been slowed by the town’s existing issues with drug trafficking and related crimes. Richard Greer, of State Investors LLC, which is involved in some of those projects, was unable to attend the meeting due to illness, but he sent a letter of support for the more modest proposal, stating that it is in line with other efforts by the council to “reduce crime and violence in the town and enforce ordinances that would improve its attractiveness and livability.”
Town Attorney Jimmy King said the ordinance, which was adopted by title only, would be drafted and sent to the county attorney for review. Once approved by both parties, the arrangement could be implemented within a week to ten days, according to Baker.