Several law enforcement agencies in South Carolina are splitting up a federal grant to fight gangs and gun violence. The US Attorney’s Office in Columbia announced last week it is awarding the grants to four different agencies across the state.
The grants total more than $157,000 and go to the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Spartanburg Public Safety Department. A $2,500 grant is also set aside for the state Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs Statistical Analysis Center.
Stacey Haynes works with Project Cease Fire in South Carolina, an initiative that coordinates local, state, and federal agencies to help fight gun crimes. She explains why the grants are necessary:
Any grant funds, especially in the tight economic times we’re having now, are very beneficial to the local department, because the local sheriffs’ departments and police departments are facing the same strains that we’re all facing on budgets.
Project CeaseFire receives a share of federal money for its initiative. A committee of solicitors and defense attorneys then reviews proposals from different law enforcement agencies around the state. The committee scores each proposal, with the top ideas selected for funding.
Haynes said Anderson County received a $47,000 grant due to their past success at using federal money effectively. She said Barnwell’s County received a $55,000 grant to expand its GREAT program (short for Gang Resistance Education And Training).
GREAT aims to limit the influence of gangs in South Carolina. Haynes says gangs are not a big problem statewide, but they do have a noticeable presence.
We do have those pockets of gangs. A lot of our gangs here are the neighborhood gangs. Crews of kids that have grown up together and work together and a lot of the gangs are involved in drug dealing, which sometimes resorts to street-level violence.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, Spartanburg will use its $52,000 grant for a “gun reduction officer.”
Haynes says the grants are vital for law enforcement agencies that are facing heavy funding cuts.