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Sheriff makes changes

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By Jenny Hartley

There’s a new sheriff in town – and he’s made some changes within his department.

Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile has named David Belk as chief deputy, or undersheriff, for the department, which has 146 employees.

Belk, who now works for the State Law Enforcement Division, will assume his new duties Jan. 17, Faile said. He will be ranked as major.

Belk is a lieutenant with SLED’s Special Victim’s Unit at SLED. He has been with SLED 11 years and worked at the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years, starting in 1987, before moving on to SLED.

Many Lancaster County residents may remember Belk as a DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) officer from years ago. He became the county’s first DARE officer at the department in 1991. Belk traveled to the Philippines about eight years ago to train DARE officers there.

A Lancaster native, Belk is a 1979 graduate of Lancaster High School. He served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer.

Belk will be responsible for day-to-day operations for the sheriff’s office, and will oversee the department’s support division, which includes judicial services, training, crime prevention, accreditation and school resource officers.

Faile held a meeting on Monday with officers and other staff to outline his plans and reorganize the department.

He said his goal is more accountability and for the sheriff’s office to receive state accreditation.

Achieving state accreditation will mean a more efficient sheriff’s office, and will aid the sheriff’s offices chances of landing more grants, Faile said.

“It sets a higher standard for us,” he said.

Faile said he’s promoting professionalism throughout the sheriff’s office and wants to provide the best law enforcement services to every resident.

“Within this agency, everyone is now accountable to someone,” he said. “We will not have deputies taking action within Lancaster County and not be accountable to someone within the chain of command.”

Faile is also introducing a community action team, a group that will consist of specialized, highly trained officers.

The team will use community-oriented policing methods to solve problems in communities and develop long-term solutions for areas with specific problems.

“This would include things as simple as going door-to-door speaking with families about law enforcement issues to developing strategies for ridding areas of drug dealers and other criminals,” Faile said.

The community action team, or CAT, will begin its work when new hires for the department graduate from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy around March 1, Faile said.

The new team did not cost the county any additional funding due to Faile’s reorganization and will mean extra officers on the road.

He said the development of CAT is one of his primary early goals and expects immediate benefits once it is fully staffed and functioning.

“One major benefit of CAT will be that we could theoretically have up to 20 officers on the road at the same time,” Faile said.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151