Berkeley County receives $1M DOJ grant to hire eight deputies

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County Sheriff's Office received a $1 million gr ant from the Department of Justice to hire eight deputies.

The gr ant funding is through the Community Oriented Policing Services Office known as COPS.

The Department of Justice awarded more than $98 million to 179 law enforcement agencies across the nation. The money will fund 802 additional full-time law enforcement officers nationwide.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office is one of three agencies in the state to receive the gr ant.

Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis says they are expecting to have some of the eight officers on the job by January.

"These COPS gr ants really I think is the bread and butter of what we're supposed to be doing," Lewis said."We're supposed to be in the community, we're supposed to be partnering with the community, working with them understanding them getting to know them."

The deputies hired through the gr ant will be addressing crime problems through interactive community policing, a criteria for receiving the funds.

Berkeley County currently has 11 deputies on its Community Action Team, the eight new deputies will join them.

"You're going to see some results," Lewis said. "It's going to take us a little while to get this moving, but you'll see some results in these communities I can guarantee it."

The deputies will be placed in areas near Red Bank Road, Harbor Lake Drive, Sangaree, Tall Pines, College Park Road and the Berkeley County side of Highway 78.

The Justice Department announced law enforcement agencies would receive additional points on their application scoring process for their willingness to cooperate with federal immigration authorities within their detention facilities.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that 80 percent of this year's COPS Hiring program recipients have agreed to cooperate.

Lewis says Berkeley County currently follows federal guidelines on immigration issues. He says his office was already doing that and will continue to do.

"The immigration stipulation for this gr ant it doesn't change anything for us," Lewis said. "We are not going around massively picking up people just because we got this gr ant that's not what it's intended for, it's intended  for community policing but we will follow the federal law on that."

The Department of Justice says cooperation may include providing access to detention facilities to interview undocumented immigr ants which Berkeley County does allow.

Overcrowding in the jail is an issue in Berkeley County so they would not be able to take in any immigr ant federal detainees or state prisoners.

Lewis thanks Sen. Lindsey Graham for his push in helping Berkeley County receive the gr ant.

"It's really nice to get something of this magnitude," Lewis said."I think the people of Berkeley County are going to notice a difference."

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