Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) – The official National Night Outs began being held this week across Lexington County, and if the turnouts at these events was any indication of support for our law enforcement agencies, the majority of the citizens across our area are still solidly behind our men and women in blue. Crowds at these events were huge and residents of all ages turned out en masse to enjoy evenings of family fun while getting to know one another and the officers assigned to protect them.
The week started in Cayce on Monday evening as that city’s DPS held a cook-out and family friendly meet and greet at their DPS complex on 12th Street. Officers showed both children and adults their cruisers and other equipment, passed out goodies, and met the public in a friendly, non-confrontational way.
Chief Byron Snelgrove, the chief of the Cayce department, made improving the relationship between officers and the community a priority when he took the helm of the department. He immediately established the COPS program, specifically targeted at making the community a partner with his department. He hired officers like Josh Addy, and Luis Feliciano, both personable, multitalented young men to reach out to the community as a whole.
Feliciano speaks several languages and has the ability to interact on a personal level with the community’s large Hispanic population in their own native tongue. Addy, a native son of Lexington County, and grandson of Kermit Addy, the former Dodge dealer who owned and operated Addy Dodge for decades and was an absolute icon in the Lexington area, is both personable and has his family’s ability to sell. Now, he’s simply selling the positive aspects that a good rapport between the police, and the people who call Cayce home.
On Tuesday evening, there were more than seven events held across the county. These included several in the Irmo area, a separate event in McGregor Downs Mobile Home Park, one in Timberland Place subdivision near Oak Grove, and others. Each had their own distinct personality, but all had the same goal; improving relationships between the public and law enforcement, reducing crime, and helping neighbors become more familiar with each other.
At the Timberland Place event, things were low key. A small group gathered at a small gazebo by the pool to talk, visit with the area’s new resident deputy, enjoy some cookies and lemonade, and just visit with their neighbors. This helps to solidify the area as more than a place to live, but a community instead.
The NNO event in the town of Lexington was bigger and better than ever. There were a number of agencies involved including the SC Highway Patrol, Lexington County’s Department of Public Safety, the sheriff’s department, and many others. Officers grilled and there were cold drinks, chips, sweets, and other snacks. Additionally, there was a bounce house, face painting, sno-balls, and lots of fun games for the hundreds of children in attendance.
Lexington’s Mayor Steve MacDougall enjoyed all the activities with his daughter and said as always, he was impressed with the great job the town’s police officers and staff had done in preparing the little town square for the event. “This is what makes Lexington so great,” MacDougall said. “This is a wonderful place for families to live, work, and play, and events like this only show how we are retaining our small town feel and atmosphere, even as we are experiencing such explosive growth.”
Police Chief Terrance Green said that his department has always received the support of the community and efforts such as the National Night Out has helped to continue building partnerships with that community. “You hear stories from across the nation about how the people dislike the police nowdays,” Green said. Then, after turning and looking around at the huge crowd enjoying the event, hearing the laughter of the children, and seeing their smiling faces as they played, Green said, “This doesn’t look like this crowd hates the police here. This is the type of relationship we enjoy with our community, and how they support us!”
The new Pond Branch TBOC group, assisted by the Whiskey Road group that’s been in existence for more than 25 years, held a joint event at The Grove in the 2800 block of Neely Wingard Road. This event was also well attended.
It featured a bounce house, lots of free hotdogs, cold drinks, a fire truck, a DJ, some live music, watermelon slices, and enough door prizes so that just about everyone in attendance took one home. There was a gift basket provided by Senator Shealy, hats from O’Reilly’s Nascar team, some Lexington Ledger t-shirts, and lots more.
The older crowd sat in the shade of the beautiful pecan grove enjoying all the activities around them. The unseasonably cool weather was enough to be very pleasant. The youngest of the crowd enjoyed the playground set, a mascot from Palmetto Children’s Hospital, balls, and games that were spread around the open field. The firefighters passed out plastic helmets and children climbed in the cab of their truck in awe.
A number of deputies were in attendance and many of them were accompanied by their families as well. The area’s resident deputy,Mike Griggs, was there with his wife, Regional Commander Captain Kevin Howard had his son with him, and Chief Deputy Greg Shockley, and Major J.J. Jones were both in attendance as well. Each enjoyed some delicious food and interacting with the crowd who had gathered to come alongside them to prevent crime.
In Batesburg-Leesville, officers from the town’s police department joined with the area’s deputies to interact with the citizens there. At this event, crowds swarmed across the grounds of the old college to enjoy some of the same features the other events offered. Here too, children laughed and smiled as they dragged parents from one activity to another. Officers joined in to interact with the children who smiled, asked questions, or just wanted to say hello.
In addition to the NNO events that are listed above, the following areas also had activities in their communities on Tuesday, August 1:
Shirway Court: pizza party
1100 block of Old Barnwell Road: pizza party
2600 block of Emanuel Church Road: ice cream social
Stratton Place: drinks and food
The Rapids: watermelon social
Waters at Berryhill: pizza and drinks
Willow Winds: cookout
Lloydwoods subdivision: social
These events aren’t quite over yet. This weekend, there will be another chance for the community to come together for a huge, combined NNO, at the Wal-Mart in White Knoll. It is slated to begin in the parking lot at the north (Lexington) end of the building beginning at 5:00 and continuing until 8:00 p.m.
This event will also feature free food and drinks, lots of games, free giveaways, displays by the SC State Troopers, the fire service, and many more. There’s usually ice cream given away and Lance Corporal David Jones of the SC Highway Patrol said he’ll be giving away some sno-cones to the kids. It’s always a great time of fun and fellowship for the community.
Later in the year, Springdale PD also holds a NNO that has won national awards in the past and Chapin’s PD holds a family friendly event in the fall. All are intended to continue to promote and increase the already great relationships that Lexington County law enforcement officers have with the citizens they serve.
For more information about crime prevention, Neighborhood Watches, and the National Night Out, you can check out the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lcsd.fb. You can also find out more from the sheriff’s website at www.lexingtonscsheriff.com.