Fully staffed Team 5 focuses on patrolling
Proactive patrolling to encourage social distancing and to keep neighborhoods safe is a top priority for the City of Charleston Police Department’s Team 5, which covers Daniel Island and parts of the Cainhoy peninsula.
There are 20 officers actively assigned to the team; 18 of them work three defined geographic beats to patrol roads, downtown areas, parks, playgrounds, and residential neighborhoods. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the office building on Seven Farms Drive is closed to the public, but the squad is fully staffed.
“Officers normally assigned to school-related duties throughout the city have been temporarily reassigned to assist patrol with calls for service which includes additional officers being assigned to Team 5,” according to Lieutenant Matthew T. Wojslawowicz.
The department took a preventative approach beginning in mid-March and implemented guidelines for distancing as well as increased sanitation.
“Early on,” Wojsławowicz said, “the department instituted procedures meant to increase social distancing which include holding roll calls at the beginning of each shift outside and taking report calls over the phone to lessen the chances of officers and citizens coming into contact with or potentially spreading the coronavirus.”
Outdoor roll calls are held daily to de-brief officers, review current crime trends, and share important information. Wojslawowicz said that other meetings have been covered through conference calls or online through apps such as Zoom.
The department is still receiving some reports of social distancing violations, as well as a spike in vandalism and petty theft cases. Wojslawowicz believes the incidents are related to school closures.
Jane Baker, vice president of community services for the Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association (POA), has seen similar problems arise.
“Over the last several weeks, the POA has had several trespassing issues with kids breaking into community amenities since they have been closed. This is especially concerning at our pools, due to the fact that they are currently not being maintained daily and swimming is not safe,” she said.
Additionally, the POA reported that park signage was stolen after Charleston Mayor John Tecklenberg directed that parks and playgrounds be closed.
“We are unaware if the signs were removed by kids or adults, but it was disheartening to say the least,” Baker said.
The POA received approximately 50 direct phone or email complaints from residents about social distancing requirements not being followed. The reports include infractions by kids as well as adults.
“I would say that the number of calls and emails to the POA has decreased over the last four days,” Baker said last week. “[The police] are doing their very best, and it is important to note that they have 4,000 acres to cover on Daniel Island, including ensuring property owners and businesses are safe and crime remains low.”
Wojslawowicz also noted that not every citizen is willing to follow the ordinance, but complaints are decreasing each week and the department is looking for voluntary compliance.
According to Baker, the current problem areas with crowding continue to be the beach areas near Waterfront Park at the end of River Landing Drive, as well as areas under development.
As a whole, crime rates are down on Daniel Island compared to this time last year.
“Calls for service have decreased in the 30-day period between March 18th and April 15th when compared with the same time period a year ago. In 2019, there were 34 incident reports generated versus 25 during the same period this year in Team 5,” remarked Wojslawowicz.
To report an issue to the Charleston Police Department, call 911 if there is an emergency or for a non-emergency, contact the dispatcher at 843-743-7200.