The true value of the Sumter Police Department and the work of its officers isn't told in headlines. It's those stories that aren't often shared outside of the confines of the Law Enforcement Center that demonstrate the character and caliber of our officers and department leadership that in turn pay dividends when it comes to the livability of our city.
There are countless stories of selfless service, compassion and respect. Some are shared through news stories and social media, but most are kept among ourselves because it's our role to do the right things for this community without being constrained to a job description or perception of what a police officer or law enforcement agency should be.
We have no agenda other than to improve the quality of life of our citizens and build goodwill regardless of the socio-economics of the citizens we serve. Our mission is to simply do our jobs with the expectation that we all are a part of this community and have a stake in its future while upholding local, state and federal laws.
We can be expected to do what's right rather than respond rashly to complaints in order to gain the favor of some. A liaison council, created in 2016 and made of local residents, helps provide oversight and makes sure we live up to the standards that we set for ourselves and to the expectations of the community.
For the past five years, we have focused on building relationships - relationships with individuals and neighborhoods throughout the city.
Without being asked or required, we have identified and worked to develop ways to address the needs of the homeless/transient community and serve and improve the quality of life for our growing elderly population, many of whom do not have close family members or associates who can help them with basic needs.
Without hesitation, we identify issues and find ways to get the job done, and we will continue to do so.
However, it is when we work together with members of the community that we do our best work and have the greatest impact. There is greater success when we all work together. We will continue to partner with residents and utilize proactive approaches to protect our citizens.
Many of our officers hail from the city and county of Sumter and have chosen to make a difference in their hometown. Some have come from communities similar to or smaller than ours, and others have lived in locales much different and larger. Together, they represent the diversity we have in Sumter, in part related to being the longtime home of Shaw Air Force Base.
Regardless of where our officers call home, they have the same heart and spirit and genuine commitment to Sumter and interest in making a difference in the lives of people who live and work here.
We will always have Sumter's continued progress at the core of what we do and will strive for excellence as a law enforcement agency.
Russell F. Roark III is chief of police for the City of Sumter.