Police chief send requests to council

Published 11:55 am Sunday, August 22, 2010

Contributing Editor

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, is scheduled to discuss request by the Washington Police Department to use the former Beaufort County Ed Tech Center on East Seventh Street as a temporary headquarters for Project Next Step.
The request was made by Mick Reed, the city’s police chief, in a memorandum to the council.
The city recently purchased the property. In his memorandum, Reed wrote that Allen Lewis, the city’s public-works director, indicated the city plans to demolish the building on that site to make way for stormwater drainage improvements.
In his memorandum, Reed said there are advantages to granting his request. They are:
• The temporary use of the building would allow Project Next Step to remain in a vital location that supports the mission of the project.
• The money saved by eliminating the cost of rent and other expenses associated with the project would further the department’s goal of funding the project through the remainder of the current fiscal year.
• The move would provide additional time to pursue options for continuing Project Next Step.
Project Next Step, funded by a grant authorized by the Governor’s Crime Commission, is designed to identify criminal activity in a targeted neighborhood.
The project identifies individuals involved in unlawful conduct and presents a unique manner to deal with them. If successful, the intervention eliminates overt criminal activity while bringing city and community resources available to alter the individual’s lifestyle, according to project spokesmen.
The council also is scheduled to consider a request to partially pay for a school resource officer at the Beaufort County Ed Tech Center, an alternative school, on Bridge Street.
Don Phipps, superintendent of Beaufort County Schools, requested the SRO, according to a memorandum from Reed to the council. For several years, that position had been supplied by the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
The city’s cost for an SRO at the alternative school from Jan. 1, 2011, to June 30, 2000, would be $3,041, according to the memorandum. The total annual cost for the SRO comes to $43,921.
Reed wrote there a several positive factor to consider when it comes to having an SRO at the school. They are:
• Providing an SRO at the school would simplify law-enforcement response to the school because the police department is accountable for all activity in the city.
• The move would better coordinate law-enforcement’s role throughout schools in the city. Although much of the training provided by programs such as DARE (fighting illegal drugs) and GREAT (fighting gangs and gang activities) is similar throughout the city and Beaufort County, the move would allow better cohesiveness with the schools in the city.
• The move would allow more direct personal contact between students who live in the city and Washington police officers, “further solidifying the positive relationship as the students grow.”
“While this topic is placed before Council for discussion purposes only, please note that we would ask for guidance in this matter to proceed as quickly as possible,” Reed wrote.
The council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Municipal Building, 102 E. Second St.