From the coast to the Pee Dee, law enforcement agencies work to boost community involvement

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BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. (WBTW) — Multiple law enforcement agencies across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee are working to collaborate more with their communities.

One of those is the Bennettsville Police Department.

BPD has a Citizens’ Advisory Board in the works that it’s currently accepting applications for.

“It’s about seeing what the issues are, before they become a real problem,” Chief Kevin J. Miller said. “Because that’s what being proactive is.”

Chief Miller said he hopes to be able to ‘get a better relationship, a closer relationship of those we serve.”

The board, once complete, will include eight members. Included in that eight is a non-voting representative from BPD.

“We’re looking for anyone who wants to participate who wants a better working relationship between the community and law enforcement,” Chief Miller explained.

The future board’s tasks include providing suggestions and reviewing investigations of complaints alleging excessive force, BPD said online.

“It’s important to have as much citizen involvement as possible,” Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver said.

Weaver has partnered with the Black River United Way as the two groups work to form a Citizens’ Review Board there.

That’s in place of an advisory board that has been around for 20 years. The sheriff said this group will be able to help even more.

“Simply review use of force cases that have been performed or acted upon members of my staff,” Sheriff Weaver said. “There are several areas where use of force may occur. We do not have a lot of cases.”

“It’s just giving another level of transparency,” Weaver added.

He said he hopes that measures such as these become more standard.

“Showing people that I want your involvement,” Sheriff Weaver said. “I need your involvement. I can’t be successful without you. So I’m hoping police reform in Columbia has some kind of component of citizen involvement.”

Sheriff Weaver said finalists will be selected during another round of interviews next week. He hopes to have it up and running by the start of the new year.

Back in July, Lake City City Council passed an ordinance that establishes an advisory board for its department. Interim Chief Daniel Brown Monday said they would likely begin recruiting for that in the beginning of 2021.

The deadline to apply in Bennettsville is Jan. 8. You can pick up an application at the police station or ask an officer for one.

Florence police says its had a similar type board for several years but COVID restrictions have recently kept it from meeting.

Count on News13 for updates.

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