Landrum looks into mutual aid policing program

Published 6:24 pm Monday, July 16, 2012

Landrum City Council gave police chief Tim Edgens approval to further consider a mutual aid agreement with the cities of Campobello, Duncan, Greer, Inman and Wellford in South Carolina.

“I think we would benefit tremendously with the seasonal events we have. We’re kind of landlocked up here and when you call for an officer it takes a little while longer for them to get here,” Edgens said.

While nothing formal has been drafted, the idea for a mutual aid program between these departments came out of weekly brainstorming sessions among the cities’ police chiefs.

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Edgens said initial thoughts were that each department would commit to making an officer available, when possible, for large-scale events.

“If we were to serve a big high-risk search warrant, I would call them,” Edgens said. “If we were to do a big July 4 roadblock, I would call them.”

Edgens said chiefs felt no one department would be called upon for more than maybe 12 events per year. He said he believed there would be mutual benefit, especially for the smaller forces like Landrum. Edgens said his department currently has four reserve officers on roll, but said those officers aren’t always available.

“Particularly during the stroll and Christmas parade I’m pulling guys from wherever I can pull them just to cover the town,” Edgens said. “If we had five other guys that were assigned to us for that night we would have them all night and that would help tremendously.”

Edgens said the chiefs are currently studying mutual aid contracts borrowed from other areas to see how best to structure such a program.

He said according to discussions so far, Landrum would pay their officers whenever they assist another town. Other departments would do the same when their officers traveled to help with Landrum events.

Councilman Jon Matheis asked what the additional cost would be to the city’s force.

“We’ve got to pay these people somehow,” Matheis said. “So we would need to come up with a cost structure.”

Ideas of potentially offering comp time for an off-duty officer willing to go assist were also kicked around. Council members have asked that Edgens look into these costs and report back next month.

Edgens said it was important to note that departments wouldn’t be required to send an officer if their own force was already spread thin at that moment in time.

“I’m not going to deplete my force to send someone,” Edgens said.