DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — Darlington officials held a news conference Friday to address safety concerns within the city.

Darlington Police Chief Kelvin Washington spoke at 2 p.m. about safety in the city and its surrounding areas.

Washington said he called the news conference to let the community know that students at Mayo High School were never in danger during a shooting Wednesday between two cars in the vicinity of the school, which prompted a lockdown.

Washington wanted to remind parents that there were no issues at the school.

Washington also addressed policing issues such as low pay and a lack of officers. He said he is meeting with the city manager to address those issues, but noted that it’s an issue being seen across the nation.

“We’ve got to do something to draw more young people into this line of work,” Washington said. “It may be having to address the issue of salaries.”

Washington said there are 4,000-5,000 police vacancies in South Carolina and said that about 20% of the officers in Darlington are not quite ready to be out on the streets due to training. A few staff members were also on leave.

Washington said a lot of people may leave the community and go to Florence and commit crimes, and that people from other surrounding areas may go to Darlington and commit crimes, as well. Washington stressed the importance of having partnerships with surrounding law enforcement agencies.

“We have geographical lines that we have to honor. The criminals don’t,” Washington said. “It’s of the utmost importance that we do have those relationships with the other police chiefs and the other sheriffs throughout the Pee Dee area.”

Washington urged any community members with information about a crime to come forward with information.

“We’re not interested in who gives us the information, we just want to get the information so we can get these folks off the streets,” Washington said. “Our job is to make sure that we provide our community and our residents with a safe, comfortable and secure environment in the city of Darlington.”

He said witnesses can come forward anonymously.

“We don’t have the luxury of being able to wave a magic wand and information just appears to us,” Washington said. “We need the community. We need them to give us information, to point us in the right direction.”

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