Residents turn out for Crime Watch
by The Press and Standard | June 27, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: June 26, 2019 at 2:32 pm
By JULIE HOFF
More than a dozen residents showed up to kick off Cottageville’s Crime Watch program on June 21.
Held at the Cottageville public library on Salley Ackerman Drive, the meeting drew most of the town’s police force as well as citizens concerned about a rash of recent property crimes.
Chief Jeffery Cook said it’s the second attempt in five years to establish a Crime Watch chapter. Most of those attending live outside the town’s 1.5 square-mile limits, but Cook said county crime affects town residents.
“Cottageville is a big place — from [Highway] 61 almost to Jacksonboro. We all need to look out for each other,” he said.
Several weeks ago, social media blew up with residents reporting larcenies, vehicle break-ins, burglaries and trespassing. Two suspects, a man and woman, were arrested in connection with those crimes.
“Stealing is a direct link to drug use. People steal to buy drugs. They rob and kill to buy drugs. Everybody here is affected by drugs,” Cook said.
“The drugs we have coming through this area would shock you — meth, heroin, fentanyl, pills — it’s all coming through.”
He shared a few insider tips: People burn tires to cover up the smell of cooking meth. Dealers will exchange a rock of crack cocaine for a bag of Tide pods.
Bob Ruff, who lives outside town limits and moderates a Cottageville Facebook page, said he was shocked to learn that only three deputies patrol the entire county at night. Colleton is the fifth-largest county in the state, covering about 1,200 square miles.
Cook assured the audience that Cottageville, after clashing with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office over mutual aid and dispatched calls, now has 24/7 police protection with seven full-time officers and three reserve officers.
“If you live in the city limits and you call 911, we will respond,” he said.
Annexation of outlying properties into town limits would increase police protection, Mayor Tim Grimsley pointed out.
The town imposes no tax on citizens, but receives annual aid to subdivision funds from the state — a fixed amount per resident — and figures that revenue into its annual budget to help fund police salaries, vehicles and equipment. The more areas that annex into town, the more funds for police protection.
The takeaway from the meeting was simple, Cook said: “If you see something, say something.” Residents need to look out for each other and call the police if something seems suspicious, Cook said.
To report non-emergency situations, call Cottageville municipal offices at 843-835-8655 or the sheriff’s office at 843-782-4420.