||Last Updated: Oct 17, 2012 - 9:48:42 AM
City of Charleston fire and police personnel are committed to keeping Daniel Island residents safe and protected. That was the promise shared with members of the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association by chiefs from both departments, who addressed the group last week at the Church of the Holy Cross.
“Our philosophy is very simple,” Police Chief Gregory Mullen told the crowd gathered. “We’re here to provide you with a service. And that’s what we try to do every day.”
Communication and information sharing
Chief Mullen outlined a number of police initiatives currently underway to better serve communities all across the city, including Daniel Island. The first, he explained, involves a more effective sharing of information about crime between neighboring jurisdictions, such as North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Berkeley County, and Charleston County.
“Just understand there is no issue with us communicating with our partners in terms of the sheriff’s department or the other police departments that surround you and surround other jurisdictions within the city. We are here working as hard as we can to put things in place where we can almost simultaneously get that information.”
One of those measures involves using a system called COPLINK, which allows departments to link information from a myriad of databases quickly and efficiently. The federal grant project, led locally by the City of Charleston Police Department, will allow officers in the local area to connect with Horry County; Jacksonville, Florida; Charlotte-Mecklenburg; and Savannah Metro.
“…Any area that has this system, we can potentially connect with them, which allows us to go out broader so we can get new information about criminals who we know are traveling throughout our jurisdiction and into others up and down the east coast,” said Mullen.
Another mode of communication being utilized by the police department for use by citizens is “PC2.” This information source can be accessed online and allows residents and community members to receive notifications based on events happening in their specific geographic region.
Safety and security cameras
In the past, some Daniel Island residents have suggested installing security cameras on the island as a way to track or prevent crime. Chief Mullen reported to the group that an estimate for the cameras has been provided to the Daniel Island community. The department currently has over 30 cameras in use in the downtown Charleston area, particularly where crime has been an issue.
“All I can tell you is that over the course of the last 12 months, the (cameras) have been very, very successful in terms of helping us not only identify crime…but they have also helped us in determining if a crime did occur…It’s saving resources and serving as a deterrent,” said Mullen.
The Chief also informed DINA members that the police department has officers monitoring the camera system about 16 hours a day. Officers are dispatched when suspicious activity is observed.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to be able to look into a crystal ball and know how and where criminals will strike next? The next best thing may be a new policing method called “predictive analysis.” Adapted from the theory that the greatest indicator of future behavior is past behavior, the initiative takes historic data from previous time periods in specific areas and uses it to predict what might happen down the road.
“You’ve heard a lot about community policing…and intelligence-led policing,” said Mullen. “Now there is predictive policing…the newest model being utilized in law enforcement across the country…Those areas where we have had problems, that’s where we’re deploying our resources and special units and any overtime assets that we have. Hopefully, we’re able to intervene and create a footprint in those areas to prevent problems from occurring.”
The compilation of data enables the police department to be much quicker in terms of getting information out to officers through technology now available in patrol cars.
“We can push out information in a matter of minutes now, when it used to be hours or days,” added Mullen.
Legislative reform targeting criminals
Mullen also used his podium at the DINA meeting to push something he has been advocating for since shortly after coming on board as Charleston Police Chief six years ago. Criminals have long had the upper hand when it comes to bond and probation violations, he said, and it’s time for legislative reform to keep those who break the law behind bars.
“We have tried,” he explained. “We have had some success. But we have not had the level of success that we need.”
Mullen expressed his frustration in a system that seems to give the offender the most benefit, citing the fact that in many cases a criminal can violate the terms of his or her probation or bond multiple times without repercussion. He called on citizens to take action.
“What we need is people like you in the community who are impacted by this every day, not only through the actual event itself, but the fear and concern it creates in the community…. to write to your legislators, call your legislators, email your legislators to let them know that you are tired of people continually committing crime after crime in your community when they should be in jail.”
Mullen said he expected two reform bills, one targeting bonds and the other probation, to be pre-filed in October.
DI community crime update
Daniel Island-based Team 5 Commander Lt. Katrina Rivers also addressed the crowd to provide an update on island crime. She told those gathered that the string of burglaries in Daniel Island Park earlier this year remain unsolved.
“The community has been excellent, and they are calling in anything that appears suspicious,” she said. “But, unfortunately, we have not developed a suspect that we can name. We have identified people of interest, but we have not established enough to charge them.”
Lt. Rivers also noted that in response to concerns about speeding on Brady Street, police conducted an increased traffic initiative in that area. Results indicated the majority of those stopped for speeding, approximately 60 to 70 percent, were island residents.
“It’s not necessarily people coming from the outside,” she said, while urging all island residents to obey speed limit signs.
In other traffic news, Lt. Rivers also informed meeting attendees that a child was struck by a vehicle recently near the Daniel Island School, although school was not in session at the time (see page 7 for the story). The child was not seriously injured, but she urged residents and pedestrians to be extra cautious, particularly at crosswalks.
“Yes, you have the right of way on the crosswalk, but you still have to make sure you see the vehicle stop before you enter the intersection.”
Fire department blazes new trails
New capabilities and equipment, officer placements, enhanced communications, and multi-jurisdictional automatic aid are benefiting the Daniel Island community when it comes to firefighting. These and other improvements were announced at the DINA meeting by new Fire Chief Karen Brack, who oversees more than 300 staff in the City of Charleston Fire Department.
Fire trucks are now equipped with access to digital maps of the areas they serve.
“We had some questions about whether or not we had adequate maps in all of our fire trucks,” said Brack, who joined the Charleston Fire Department in May. “We now have a Mobile Data Terminal (MDT), which is basically a computer in all of our fire trucks, and that has a mapping program so there shouldn’t be any issues with finding addresses or finding locations.”
Two stations serve the Daniel Island and Cainhoy areas within the city. Station 18 is located in downtown Daniel Island, while Station 20 is situated near the Daniel Island Marina off Clements Ferry Road. Station 20 will get a brand new pumper truck in the coming months, said Brack. In addition, there is now a full-time captain assigned to each station. But perhaps the biggest improvement cited at the meeting was the recent signing of an automatic mutual aid agreement between Charleston and four neighboring jurisdictions.
“It’s all about service to the community,” said Brack. “That puts the closest, most appropriate unit on scene any time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a North Charleston fire truck. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Charleston fire truck. It’s that when you make that 911 call and they ping your address, they’re going to send the closest units…It makes a big difference for Daniel Island.”
“The auto-aid agreement has been huge,” added Deputy Chief of Operations John Tippett, who also spoke at the meeting. “The impact of the MDTs, we’re already feeling, because those MDTs are also in the North Charleston fire trucks. So if we happen to be on a different call and North Charleston comes to serve you, their Mobile Data Terminal is tracking right to your house. A lot of those concerns that we’ve had with mapping, we were finally able to get it accomplished.”
Deputy Chief Tippett also noted that all fire trucks now have Berkeley County radios installed, meaning they can speak directly to Berkeley County when needed.
“We don’t have to go through a secondary means or patch in radios,” he said. “…There is no break in communication anymore.”
The next DINA meeting will take place on Tuesday, November 6, at the Church of the Holy Cross on Daniel Island. Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis will serve as guest speaker. For information on joining the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association (dues are $10 per year per household), or getting on the group’s email list, please contact Laurie Steinke at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the DINA website at www.dineighborhoodassociation.org.