GCSO meeting 01

Monday’s community update meeting had deputies with the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office providing statistics and information about crime and safety trends for the communities around Emerald Road and in that general region.

Though scarcely attended, Monday’s community update meeting hosted by the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office shared information on recent crimes in the county’s most populous areas.

Sheriff Dennis Kelly and several of his deputies have been hosting community update meetings, going section by section through the county to speak with communities face-to-face and give them information on the crime trends in their area. It also gives deputies the chance to answer questions and hear concerns from residents.

But Monday’s meeting, hosted at the James C. Self Conference Center at Piedmont Technical College, saw three residents in attendance. Still, investigator Matthew Womack took the lead on giving the small group the information he had prepared.

He started listing the calls for service for the sheriff’s office central zone, which covers much of the middle of Greenwood County. In July, the sheriff’s office responded to six fraud cases, 14 burglaries, 25 thefts and 20 cases of people breaking into vehicles. Deputies answered 14 assault calls, and nine domestic violence calls, along with three reported shootings.

Womack explained various programs the sheriff’s office offers residents, including the Take Me Home program, which is aimed at helping officers interact with people who may be nonverbal, including people with autism or who have conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

He discussed ways to avoid identity theft and what to do if it happens, along with tips on how people can secure their homes and property. This year alone, there have been 196 reported incidents of auto break-ins, with 230 vehicles entered by thieves. That’s led to 54 firearms being stolen, and in 90% of these cases the vehicles were unlocked, Womack said.

Only 10% of these cases have resulted in arrests, and Womack said that’s because when a car is left unlocked and the thief takes precautionary measures to not get caught, there is little officers can do.

“Even if you do have surveillance footage, if they have hoods on and gloves on, what can we do,” he said.

He gave a brief overview of other topics, such as how to keep teens safe in the digital age, drug use and overdose numbers for the county and the upcoming Citizen’s Academy program the sheriff’s office is hosting.

The next meeting will offer information for a segment of the county featuring much of Greenwood’s city limits as well.

That meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 9 at North Side Baptist Church, 409 Northside Drive W.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.