Society Hill council updates policies, discusses new equipment and repairs
By Stephan Drew
Many subjects were on the table during the November 7th meeting of the Society Hill Town Council but, equipment upgrades, repairs to the town and law enforcement policies were the main topic of discussion.
Mayor Dwayne Duke reported that the town had received $92,925 in additional federal funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). These funds are not yet in the budget but, council would like for them to be used for a new sound system, cameras, signage upgrades and repairs on the storage building at the Society Hill Town Hall. The Mayor assured all present that the budget would be amended by the December meeting to include these funds.
“I would like for us to take some of that money and put it in the (Bethesda) park,“ Dukes said, “Buff it up a little bit, the one on Church Street, across from the school. We need to do some work on it and utilize these funds we have to fix this town.” Council agreed to evaluate and consider not only refurbishing the park but also upgrading public restroom facilities in that area.
Police Chief Renea Worden reported that there was no court held in October because she was out of town, assisting other law enforcement and first responders, doing Hurricane relief work in Florida at the time. She also reported that she wrote 14 citations, 6 warnings, 3 reports and assisted another law enforcement agency in October. A vehicle from Society Hill had been stolen and, after receiving a call from the Marlboro County Police Department, Worden was able to drive to Marlboro County and retrieve the vehicle. Mayor Dukes praised Worden’s efforts. “It’s not all the time you get something returned after it’s stolen,” Dukes said, “Good job, chief!” Worden also discussed a letter from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy which states that new policies must be added to Police Department manuals. “If you’re not an accredited agency,” Worden said, “the Criminal Justice Academy will come up and do audits of the police department. You have one shot to make sure everything is right. If not, they will start pulling certifications.” Worden explained that she has been reviewing and updating police policy manuals. The deadline for updating the manuals is December 31st.
Worden also discussed a grant to purchase new cameras for police vehicles and personnel. A grant application was sent to the S.C. Highway Dept. for new car dash cameras and body cams as well. The body cameras were approved but the car cameras were not. Worden described the difficulty of the issue, “You have to have a car camera to make a DUI arrest,” she said, “We don’t have them.” Worden explained that the Highway Department refused to grant her the car cameras (which are necessary for DUIs) but requested to see any DUI arrests she had made, which is impossible without the cameras. The car and body cameras range in price from $4,000 each to $18,000 for an entire system. These cameras sync up with each other and provide a broader view of criminal and police activity during a stop.
In other business, Scott Dixon, Society Hill resident and videographer, reported that he had looked into 3 different companies which can supply a new sign in front of the Town Hall and had found one which he thought would work. Dixon told the council, “The cost of this particular sign, double-sided, full color, outdoor, plays video and still pictures, and updates where you can create your own artwork, is $16,743, shipping and freight included.” Dixon also explained the ease of updating the video messages on the sign, “You can do if from your cellphone,” he said. Similar signs are used for the Town of Blenheim, Black Creek Baptist Church in Darlington, and Macedonia Baptist Chruch, Christian Fellowship Church and the Marlboro County Administration, in Bennettsville.
Council discussed the sale of a 2010 Dodge Charger police car, which is city property. The vehicle has 141,277 miles on it and a new $200 battery. It will be on view for inspection from 9am to 12pm on December 3rd and sealed bids will be accepted until 5pm on that day.
Council also discussed large tractor-trailer trucks traveling on Church Street and taking detours onto St. David’s Road. There are a few small signs saying “No Thru Traffic” but, none of the large SCDOT (S.C. Dept. of Transportation) highway signs. Council agreed to discuss getting the larger signs with the Highway Department. Council discussed adding 2 more light poles on Church Street as well in poorly lit sections of that area.
Society Hill Town Council will meet again on Tuesday, December 13th.