By Stan Welch
The towns and police departments of Williamston and West Pelzer have entered into a mutual aid agreement that allows either agency to call on the other for additional law enforcement resources in times of emergency or unusual need.
The West Pelzer Town Council approved the agreement Monday night. Williamston did so last week at their Council meeting. Both police Chief Mike Clardy and Chief Tony Taylor signed off on the agreement.
Basically the agreement allows officers of one jurisdiction to function in the other jurisdiction, if a formal request for assistance has been made and granted between the two jurisdictions.
Situations which might initiate such a request would be crowd control, traffic control, situations involving officer safety, felonies in progress, or emergencies. Not all mutual aid would be in response to an emergency, however. For example, additional crowd or traffic control during a scheduled event might be one use of the agreement.
Each town will determine the amount of manpower and equipment it will provide in a given situation. Any officer can make the request; or in circumstances involving the need for backup, the request can be implied. In other words, a call for help over the radio can be sufficient, with no further authorization under certain circumstances.
Local existing chains of command will be maintained, with the officer normally in charge of the force requesting the help retaining that authority, while transmitting his needs to the officer normally in charge of the responding agency, for relay to his officer(s).
The reciprocal aid will under normal circumstances incur no cost to either town. Either town can terminate the agreement at their pleasure. Failing termination, the agreement will renew each year.
The agreement must be approved by the Governor’s Office before it goes into effect.