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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Violent crime in Florence is being addressed
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Violent crime in Florence is being addressed

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Violent crime in Florence is being addressed

The city of Florence, like many areas across the state and country, has experienced increases in violent crime involving the use of firearms. In 2021, there have been 12 non-fatal-related gunshot victims and four murder victims (one by knife) within the Florence Police Department’s jurisdiction.

Of the murders and shootings involving a victim in 2020 and 2021, only one death was the result of a random act. These criminal acts are often people known to the victim through acquaintances (many times identifying themselves as gang members), domestic relationships, individuals suffering from mental illness and individuals involved in drug activity and/or prostitution. Within the past year the police department has also charged two murder suspects, in separate incidents, who were out of jail on bond and awaiting trial for other murders.

Florence Police Chief Allen Heidler and Florence County Sheriff T.J. Joye recently re-established the Pee Dee area Criminal Intelligence Council (PDCIC) for the purpose of sharing information related to criminal activity. This council is made up of Pee Dee area law enforcement, including state, county, local and federal authorities.

Since February of this year, the PDCIC has met monthly to share information regarding criminal activity and remain in contact between meetings to alert member agencies of pertinent criminal activity potentially occurring within their jurisdictions.

The police department’s Criminal Investigations and Special Investigations (narcotics, gangs and vice) units work closely with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force to identify and monitor gang members and drug offenders in an effort to track down and prosecute violent offenders.

The police chief attends a monthly meeting with Pee Dee Mental Health as part of a mental health law enforcement advisory council. Pee Dee Mental Health has a Community Crisis Response and Intervention (CCRI) team in place that assists officers when they are dealing with a person suffering from a mental health crisis.

We encourage residents to request assistance from available community resources to address mental health care concerns for a family member or friend. The Pee Dee Mental Health Community Crisis Response and Intervention (CCRI) team (843-317-4073) is available to assist in this capacity, as is the South Carolina Mental Health Mobile Crisis Program (833-364-2274).

With COVID-19 restrictions slowly lifting, the police department is also working toward resuming in-person neighborhood and business crime watch association meetings over the next several months. These associations are vital partnerships between the police and the community for the purpose of proactively addressing criminal activity concerns.

We share the concerns of our residents and desires to grow and maintain partnerships with the community to safeguard the well-being and safety of all city residents. The police department is dependent upon community members to share information so issues related to criminal activity can be addressed appropriately. An anonymous tip line is available through Crime Stoppers of the Pee Dee at 1-888-274-6372 (CRIMESC).

We are only strong against crime by working together.

TERESA MYERS ERVIN

Florence mayor

ALLEN HEIDLER

Florence police chief

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