HARTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Community members in Hartsville filled City Council chambers Thursday to learn how officials plan to combat what many say is a growing crime problem.
A dose of reality and another of tough love was on tap as the community surrounded nine young violent offenders as they listened to local and federal law enforcement officers give them some tough choices for their futures.
Safety is the main reason that Jaye Gullet, the community liaison with Hartsville Police, says there wasn’t a seat left empty in the council chambers.
“It’s a great opportunity people in the city of Hartsville to feel safer in their community,” Gullet said.
Thursday’s meeting of the Hartsville Safe Communities Action Team was the first one of its kind in the city, and only the second such meeting in the Palmetto State so far. A panel of law enforcement representatives filed in once the meeting began, each turning around a plate with an agency name on the front.
In addition to local forces from Hartsville and Darlington, others came to speak with much higher authority. Each representative took turns addressing the offenders.
While several of them brought prepared remarks, most decided once they began that speaking from the heart to the young offenders was the best approach. The youth were reminded again and again by officers of the chance at a better life being offered…as well as of the 10, 20, or even 30-plus-year sentences that might await them if they get into trouble again.
Gullet says connecting past offenders with jobs is a huge step to recovery.
“So they can not only provide for their families, but be a productive member of the community,” she explained. Above all, she says she is pleased that all of Hartsville is taking crime as seriously as she is.
“Without the community, this would not have been such a success.”
A mood of optimism filled the room at meeting’s end, and the offenders left to hopefully set out on a better path in the future.