I have had the privilege of serving you as your Sheriff for over 19 years. The badge of Sheriff is a symbol of public trust. It must be worn proudly with honor, integrity and dedication to duty. My years of service to Beaufort County have given me the insight and experience to lead this office into the future. First, Thank You for the support you have given me thus far. I have made it my mission to be worthy of your trust. However, our work is not done. I am asking for your continued support. Please vote to Re-elect me, Sheriff PJ Tanner, in the June 12th Republican primary so that we can keep moving forward with the success of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
Since my tenure as Beaufort County Sheriff began in 1998, the Sheriff’s Office has evolved into one of the most progressive law enforcement agencies in South Carolina. As a team, my staff and I have implemented various initiatives that better serve the residents and guests of Beaufort County, and I hope to continue on this path of positive growth. As I ask for your vote to re-elect me as your Sheriff, I offer the following highlights of what we have accomplished during my time as your Sheriff.
One of my very first missions as a new Sheriff was to create a competitive and enhanced employee compensation plan. I designed the tiered 18 month, 3 year, 5 year and longevity plan to better recruit and retain officers who are seeking a career in law enforcement. My plan also promotes internal growth within the agency because it allows officers to estimate potential earnings years into the future. This pay plan not only makes us highly competitive in a tough market but also allows us to retain experienced and dedicated officers for years to come.
Perhaps the widest reaching improvement to our Sheriff’s Office has been the creation of our forensic services lab. Cutting edge technology makes us better equipped to fight and solve crime. Having our own lab and forensic experts means we can analyze and provide forensic test results within a fraction of the time we once did. We started our forensic services unit with a Drug Lab in March 2002. At that time, we were sending our drug evidence to the same state-run lab that all 46 counties were sending theirs to. The statewide caseload meant we were waiting two to three years for a drug test result. The creation of our own lab reduced that wait to less than three weeks after evidence submission. As the importance and acceptance of DNA as a law enforcement tool grew so did the need for quicker analysis results. Again, instead of submitting our evidence to a state-run lab and waiting in line with 45 other counties, we took the initiative to create our own lab. In March 2010 we opened the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office DNA lab which has been an incredible instrument for all areas of investigation. This lab has greatly improved our ability to solve crime and to do so in a more timely and efficient manner. Forensic science is not the future, it is the present and we are determined to stay connected. Our most recent addition has been the Fire and Arson analysis section.
In addition to having a top of the line forensic laboratory and analysts, I have ensured that Beaufort County has some of the best trained and well equipped Special Response Teams in the state. Our teams include SWAT, the Bomb Detection and Disposal Team, a Dive Team, K-9 officers , and Hostage and Crisis Negotiators. These teams receive on-going training and the best and most advanced equipment we can find. We have utilized the federal surplus 1033 program in order to acquire some of this equipment, including bullet-proof personnel carriers and a helicopter, at no cost to Beaufort County citizens. This federal program provides surplus vehicles and equipment to our agency and our only cost is for maintenance. We have also acquired a Firearms Training System (FATS) which is a computerized firearm and use of force training simulator. Our lab, resources, and all of our special teams are available to, and have been called upon by, the municipal police departments and surrounding jurisdictions.
The Office of Professional Responsibility, more commonly known as Internal Affairs, provides clear, consistent evaluation of our policies and how those policies are enforced within the agency. Our office has earned and maintained national recognition and accreditation through the prestigious Commission for Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation (CALEA), which provides a third-party evaluation of our policies and procedures. Internally, we employ in depth investigations, to include polygraph examinations, into allegations of policy violations. We equipped all patrol vehicles with in-car cameras and body-mics many years ago. Today, we are working with state authorities to procure funding for additional body cameras.
Under my leadership, we have embraced the force that is Social Media. Some innovations have come from the foresight to get in on the front end of cutting edge technology, others have come from lessons learned along the way. Platforms such as our NIXLE advisory system, a FACEBOOK account, active WEBPAGE, and our new Law Enforcement YOUTUBE series have all been implemented. Our goal is to keep our residents and guests informed on matters of public safety. These platforms all provide information on areas including, but not limited to: major crime, missing children or endangered adults, cold cases, traffic incidents, safety tips, and so on. Our new public information tools also provide real time, factual information on hurricanes or other natural or manmade crisis events. Hurricane Matthew was one of those lessons learned scenarios that educated us on the power of social media and the negative effects of swiftly moving inaccurate information. Our immediate goal after Matthew was to create a central hub of accurate, factual, up to date information for our residents. When Hurricane Irma came calling only one year later, we were ready and the communication with our citizens was infinitely improved. In other efforts to create continuity and cooperation, I called for a workshop with other local leaders from the Municipalities, Police and Fire Chiefs, County Council and Administration, and our State Delegation Members. From this group emerged a unified tiered re-entry plan that we will all be able to rely upon.
Creating and supporting community liaisons have been an important focus of my administration. After partnering with the Sun City Del Webb community to develop their Safety and Services team, we realized the opportunity to develop our own CITIZENS POLICE ACADEMY. The primary goal of this program is community outreach that will result in citizens having a better understanding of what our Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office staff do, how we do it, and why we do it. The Citizen’s Police Academy is a 10 week training session that is free to the community and offered at least twice a year. So far, we have reached thousands of Beaufort County citizens with this popular program and continue to take applications for the next one. Another popular community initiative is our Community Resource officers who visit and maintain very important relationships with our Elementary Schools and other community groups. These officers visit Beaufort County’s multiple elementary schools throughout the school day while our School Resource Officers man all middle and high schools within the county. Recently, we were able to announce our campaign introducing the P3 tips APP available from CRIMESTOPPERS ( SC ). This statewide program allows anyone to use their mobile device to report crime. Our goal with this campaign is to encourage our school aged children to use this free and easy to use APP to report potential criminal acts within our public and private schools in Beaufort County. In addition to school safety, other pressing social issues, such as the growing OPIOID abuse and mental health concerns, are being addressed with other initiatives. We have trained and equipped our patrol officers with NARCAN, a life saving drug for those who have overdosed on opioid drugs. Further, our Office has joined hands with mental health professionals who have provide our officers with updated training from the National Alliance on Mental Illness ( NAMI ). We work closely with our Coastal Empire Mental Health of Beaufort County to face the growing challenges facing the mentally ill in Beaufort County. The law enforcement profession must adapt to our ever-changing world. In keeping with this knowledge, it is imperative that we form partnerships with our Community, Residents, and Guests so that we may better understand their needs and how we can meet those needs.
It has been an honor to serve you this far and to be able to meet so many of our goals for positive growth and innovation. It would be my sincere privilege to continue serving you as we carry on and further improve and advance the professionalism of your Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
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Please consider making a contribution to support Sheriff PJ Tanner's campaign for re-election. Contributions should be made out to:
Tanner for Sheriff
PO Box 930
Bluffton, S.C. 29910