Police Department adds 30 new vehicles
Florence’s Finest are riding in style as they patrol the city. Last month, City Police officers were assigned 30 shiny new vehicles. The police department was able to replace many old, worn out patrol cars with the Ford Interceptor which was specially designed for law enforcement, said Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler. The new blue and white vehicles come with all-wheel drive for better traction and more safety systems.
They are equipped with data terminals to communicate with dispatch and the newest car video system. And, they offer 20 percent better fuel efficiency. Twenty four of the new vehicles are striped in blue with a new modern design to promote visibility and assigned to patrol officers. Six are unmarked for investigators. “We are in a lot better shape as far as motor vehicles,” the chief noted.
The chief said his department is working on providing body cameras to all officers. The city has purchased 11 body cameras and a $23,000 federal grant allowed the purchase of 25 more. He reminds that state law requires body cameras. The S.C. Criminal Justice Academy Council has developed a model policy for their use and when approved, the department can apply for state grant money for more body cameras.
The Florence Police Department staff includes 66 uniformed police officers. Unlike other cities where there is animosity toward law enforcement, Chief Heidler feels his department and the community has a good working relationship. He attributes this to community-based partnerships between law enforcement, residents and businesses, as well as elected officials and government agencies.
The Police Department recognizes that police officers must partner with citizens who share a mutual responsibility for resolving problems. “People who live in a community know more about what is going on,” he commented. Neighborhood and Business Crime Watch groups are a great way for citizens and officers to talk about what is going on in their area. He added there are currently 40 active crime watch groups in the city.
Another way for citizens to learn more about city law enforcement is an upcoming Citizens Police Academy which will he held on Tuesdays evenings at 6 p.m., beginning Feb. 16 through April 19. Tentative plans are to hold these meetings at the downtown sub-station on Dargan St. Heidler said the Citizens Police Academy will showcase police and inform the public on their role sand responsibilities.
They will talk about everything, he said. The Citizens Police Academy is provided free of charge. To attend, you must complete and application. Class space is limited and slots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call Officer Mary McNeil at 843-665-4008 to get an application.