West Columbia, SC 12/13/2022 - The Cayce and West Columbia Police Departments received the Dominion Energy Crime Prevention Award from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association (SCLEOA) on Friday, December 9, 2022, at the SCLEOA Annual Conference. Nominated by the Greater Cayce West Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), the Business Watch Program is a first of its kind in South Carolina, crossing jurisdictional and commercial lines, to mitigate the criminal element, effectively educate business owners, and open lines of communication. The concept resembles a neighborhood watch program, but for businesses. The training provided gives participants a better understanding of ways to prevent crime at their businesses and how, where, and when to report suspicious activity.
The Business Watch Program was developed after extensive input from both Cayce and West Columbia Police Departments, Chamber board members, and business leaders. The program’s goal is to focus on the specific needs of area businesses and how a partnership with organizations like the Chamber and local law enforcement can help businesses’ safety. The information gathered became the foundation of the program, which is:
• To provide a method of sharing suspicious activity before a police report is necessary
• Create routine opportunities for education on Crime Prevention
• Provide regular updates for criminal activity occurring in the area
• Creation of seasonal (Christmas, Summer) tips for safety
The Business Watch Program includes many businesses in the Greater Cayce West Columbia Chamber area but is not limited to Chamber members. The Chamber Business Watch members served as a catalyst to launch the program and encourage others to join. The Cayce and West Columbia Chiefs invited other area law enforcement agencies, including smaller jurisdictions and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department to share in the effort of crime prevention as well. Shortly after educating the community about the program, two individual companies stepped forward to financially support and sponsor the Business Watch concept. Ironically one of those two companies was Dominion Energy, after which the annual award is named - this gives credence to the fact that Dominion Energy truly supports crime prevention throughout the state of South Carolina.
Business Watch was developed with the direction of the input from the guiding groups and led at every step by the Cayce and West Columbia Police Chiefs, to ensure that the focus remained on Crime Prevention. The program’s foundation uses the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concept as a framework. In its final stage, before business meetings began, the program was approved by all entities involved, as it embodied the spirit of the community, as well as a program that would help protect the businesses of the communities.
West Columbia Police Chief Marion Boyce said, “This is a unique collaboration between our Chamber of Commerce and our neighboring police agency Cayce Police Department. By partnering with both, we can reduce crime and workloads for our police officers. This program also enables us to provide more opportunities for positive interactions with our business community and our citizens. We strive to provide quality police service to all, and the Cayce West Columbia Business Watch program enables us to do just that.”
Cayce Police Chief Chris Cowan stated, “The focus of the Cayce and West Columbia Police Departments’ Business Watch is to unite the business community around proactively preventing crime. This unique partnership is a force multiplier, connecting the efforts of two City police departments, partner law enforcement agencies, the Greater Cayce West Columbia Chamber of Commerce, and local businesses. This collaboration is doing for businesses what have long been in existence in residential communities, known as Neighborhood Watch, and sets the benchmark for others to follow. We are extremely honored to receive the SCLEOA Dominion Energy Crime Prevention award and excited about what this award and program demonstrate to our communities.”
City of West Columbia Mayor Tem Miles said, “I am proud and thankful for this collaborative program between the West Columbia and Cayce Police Departments and our local Chamber of Commerce. The issues of crime that affect one community affect the other. I’m so glad we are working to address these issues.”
City of Cayce Mayor Elise Partin, “I am grateful for Chief Cowan’s vision on this and the proactive and collaborative nature of the program for our business community. And I’m thankful for our partnership with West Columbia and to the Chamber for putting this project forward for an SCLEOA award.”
“At Dominion Energy, safety is our top priority,” said Dominion Energy South Carolina President Keller Kissam. “That means we are our brothers’ keepers, and we are our sisters’ keepers. It’s important to us to support local work like this that helps to keep our local business community and our neighbors safe.”
“This unique partnership mirrors that of the Cayce and West Columbia Police Departments, - as they both truly recognize the importance of unity and coordination when preventing crime,” said Tim James, Greater CWC Chamber President and CEO. “On behalf of the business community, we thank Dominion Energy for its vision, as this program places yet another tool in the law enforcement toolbox for safety and security.”
Pictured Below: JJ Jones, CEO of SCLEOA and Police Chiefs Association, Sergeant Eddie West, Cayce PD CAT Team, Major TJ Geary, Outgoing President of SCLEOA, Chief Marion Boyce, West Columbia PD, Assistant Police Chief Shawn Grant, Cayce PD, Douglas Heminghouse, Dominion Energy