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On-duty deputies make sheriff’s office more ‘customer friendly’

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To protect and (better) serveg

By Greg Summers

It used to be that a citizen who needed to see a deputy for non-emergency assistance or get questions answered might have to wait 15 or 20 minutes for one to return to the sheriff’s office.
That was in the past.

Now, those who need help with matters relating to any variety of county law enforcement issues will find one on-site and on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the new sheriff’s office, at 1520 Pageland Highway.
That, along with some additional direct phone numbers, should make the department more efficient, said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile.

“It’s all about customer service,” said Faile. “The goal is to make county law enforcement more taxpayer friendly. By having someone here, we can take incident reports, answer questions and even give directions, if that’s what’s needed.”

One of those on duty deputies is Sgt. Spencer McInvaille, a four-year veteran at the sheriff’s office.
“People come in with a wide variety of questions,” McInvaille said. “It might concern property damage, a larceny, a legal matter, child custody or sometimes needing to turn themselves in for an outstanding warrant.

“Others might need a file an incident report for something that happened three days ago. We should be able to help them,” he said.

Having an on-duty deputy reaps another additional benefit, said sheriff’s office Maj. Matt Shaw.

“The flip side is we don’t have to pull someone out of your neighborhood and can keep our folks on the road. That’s where they should be when they’re on duty,” Shaw said.

Faile said no one should get the impression that the on-duty deputy is sitting around when no one is coming in.
That job, he said, entails making sure the local sex offender registry is upSunday, April 14, 2013d and maintained, keeping track of the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) network across the region and state. They will be out of view in the records department, but will come to the lobby, where there is a private room to talk to citizens when it is needed.

NCIC tracks wanted or missing persons, stolen cars and other crime-related information in a national database. The on-duty deputy also helps in records and is responsible for monitoring on-site security and security cameras at the new law enforcement complex, which takes up six buildings.

“They have plenty of responsibilities to take care of,” Faile said.
 

New phone numbers  
The sheriff’s office has also added a new bank of phone numbers to augment response times.

In the past, when someone needed non-emergency services, they would call (803) 283-3388 or (803) 283-4136.

“It was easy to get the call to where it needed to go because we were all in the same building. What we’re trying to do is make it more efficient on our communications officers and not tie them up,” Faile said.
Shaw said in emergency situations, citizens should always call 911. But if someone needs a deputy to come to their home or business, Shaw said they should now call (803) 283-4136. Calls made to (803) 283-3388 go to a receptionist, who only answers general questions.  

“It doesn’t mean someone won’t respond if they call (283) 3388, but 4136 is the quickest way to get a deputy there. It will take longer if they call 3388. For a long time, it had been the same number, but we’re now in different buildings,” Shaw said.

“We don’t want our communications officers to become a switchboard for the entire department,” Faile said.

“It can be overwhelming at times,” said Chris Nunnery, public safety communications director for Lancaster County. “Last year, more than 270,000 phone calls came through dispatch at the sheriff’s office.”
Open house plans

The new office opened April 4. Faile lauded the sheriff’s office personnel for making the move almost flawless.
“I can’t tell you how smooth it went. We moved all the computers, plugged them in and they went up,” Faile said. “However, as with anything, there a few bugs we need to work out like the upstairs air conditioning. Hopefully, within the next month, we’ll be able to hold an open house so our citizens can see the improvements that have been made. From County Council to the administration and the support staff, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everyone’s efforts for the improvements.

“It’s been a real team effort we can all be proud of,” he said.
       
Contact copy editor Gregory A. Summers at (803) 283-1156