Crime drops 10 percent in Sumter from 2017 to 2018

Police chief Russell Roark says education, department's investments help make Sumter safer

BY ADRIENNE SARVIS
adrienne@theitem.com
Posted 2/27/19

The city of Sumter saw a drop in overall crime in 2018 as Sumter Police Department made strides to increase and enhance its policing, according to Chief Russell Roark III.

Data provided by the department at the Sumter City Council meeting earlier …

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Crime drops 10 percent in Sumter from 2017 to 2018

Police chief Russell Roark says education, department's investments help make Sumter safer

Posted

The city of Sumter saw a drop in overall crime in 2018 as Sumter Police Department made strides to increase and enhance its policing, according to Chief Russell Roark III.

Data provided by the department at the Sumter City Council meeting earlier in February showed a 10 percent decrease in overall crime from last year, with an increase in sexual assaults and weapons crimes.

Roark said the police department is above the national average in the clearance rate of property crimes, crimes committed by juveniles, financial crimes and violent crimes. Clearance rates are a representation of how many crimes the department solves.

And because cyber crime scenes may be in another country with the use of technology targeting victims in Sumter, Roark said, the department has also made investments in solving those crimes.

"We invest a lot of money and technology and tools to address criminal activity via technology," Roark said, "and it's going to continue to grow in that direction."

Roark said he thinks the drop in crime is in response to the department's public information education campaigns with neighborhood watch groups and social media as well as intelligence-led policing.

The agency recorded an increase of more than 500 percent in traffic on the agency's website in the last year, he said. Communication, public trust, treating all people fairly and with respect are demanded through the agency's actions, Roark said.

"We don't just serve and protect the community," he said. "We're part of the community."

Roark said the department engages with the community in multiple ways, one of which involves reaching out to seniors.

About 16 percent of the city's population is more than 65 years old, he said, and the agency has been able to reconnect with a lost service population through Cpl. Warren "Papa G" Davis and Operation Checkmate.

"[Davis] sees those 48 people [who participate in the program] as family members and treats them as such," he said.

One improvement at the department Roark highlighted is the department's investment in understanding and addressing use of force.

Capt. Michael Evans is one of less than 100 people worldwide, Roark said, who is certified as a specialist in use of force issues.

Roark said that's important for the police department because it helps officers better understand use of force and how it affects the community, the officer and training. It also helps with understanding the psychosis of dealing with issues relative to use of force, he said.

With about two million police officers nationwide, he said, having someone in Sumter trained to that level is astounding.