NORTH AUGUSTA, S. C. (WJBF) – North Augusta public safety officers are working to be reaccredited.
It was a slim turnout Tuesday as some North Augustans and others shared their experiences with officers during a forum along with their accrediting body, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
Julie Hawkins came to the performance review to defend her late son.
She said, “Public safety in my opinion has been very unprofessional.”
Hawkins admits her son didn’t make the best decisions, but she’s been fighting to get a trespassing issue of his resolved for about two years now. She claims communication between public safety, the city attorney, and citizens is broken. Hawkins wants things to change.
She explained, “I felt that in some ways he had been done wrong. I felt as a mother when I walked up to a police officer and said ‘why are charging him for?’ And that City of North Augusta police officer told me ‘we don’t know, we’ll figure it out,’ I felt like I’ve been done wrong.”
“We have setbacks sometimes but we’re always working towards building social credit within the community,” said North Augusta Public Safety Lieutenant Tim Thornton.
Former North Augusta mayoral candidate Richard Adams would like to see more representation in North Augusta’s police force.
He said, “I would like to see younger officers patrolling the streets. Younger officers tend to be more culturally versed… younger people understand the different cultural barriers that separated us in times past. The line that divides us, it needs not be blurred it should be blended.”
To achieve CALEA accreditation, law enforcement agencies must follow nearly 500 standards. According to Thornton, standards change frequently.
He said, “New standards have been added, some standards have been omitted. We move forward, we address those issues, we adopt new policies according to how we need to comply with the standard of CALEA, and then it’s our responsibility to train and implement those policies. And then prove how we’re doing it.”
In the last week, Thornton added the department has learned its policies are effective but there is always room for improvement.