Gang concerns drive Summerville to try out police rapid response team
SUMMERVILLE — A police rapid response team is likely to get a test run in this town next year — pushed by recent trouble “hot spots” including a shocking shooting in the Robynwyn community in late 2012.
The concern is about gangs or gang-wannabes, in a place that still clings to a hard-pressed, genteel small town ambience.
In the Robynwyn incident, a sedan full of people drove up to and killed a man standing in his driveway. That was followed by a second shooting and a series of police calls in the neighborhood.
The incidents drove more than 1,000 residents to sign a petition that led to the town’s first community alert system, designed to let people in an affected area know immediately by text or email if violence or other emergency erupts in that area.
The Robynwyn incidents “spurred us to take a hard look at crime and how it’s moving around to different areas,” said Councilman Aaron Brown. He nodded when asked if there was concern for gang-style violence.
A police community rapid response team focuses on an area when violence erupts, saturating coverage and backing up patrols. It’s a police method more often associated with urban areas.
Police Chief Bruce Owens asked Town Council during a recent retreat to consider hiring six new officers for the job, to supplement the 86-officer force. The town has more than 44,000 residents.
The request wasn’t approved, but the three members of council’s public safety committee on Wednesday recommended that council pay up to $200,000 in 2014 for the trial run, paying overtime to current officers to do the job. With three other members of the seven-member council sitting in the room for the unanimous vote, the recommendation is likely to be approved.
The money would come from the planned budget or hospitality tax revenues.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen reporting on Facebook.