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BEAUFORT, S.C. (Jan. 12, 2022) – The Beaufort Police Department’s Community Response Team is gearing up for a busy 2022.
Officer Jennifer Petrone, who with Sgt. Steven Marques operates the Community Response Team, is looking for additional volunteers for the Volunteer Outreach in Community Efforts (VOICE) program. Volunteers make daily phone calls to check in on those who are enrolled in the program. Those enrolled may be seniors, people with disabilities, or those suffering from a mental illness. In most cases, they are homebound, or have very limited ability to get around.
“Our volunteers develop relationships with the people they check on,” Petrone said. “If the volunteer can’t get hold of anyone, they will reach out to me or to Dispatch.” An officer will then make a health and welfare check on that person.
Frequently, police officers will refer people into the program – people that they think will benefit from being checked on regularly. Other referrals come from the Beaufort Housing Authority and other property managers.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please call Officer Petrone at 843-441-7545 and leave your name and phone number. If you would like to suggest someone who lives by themselves who would benefit from this program, please call this number as well.
Greg’s Groceries is a program offered by the non-profit Serve & Connect, which was founded in 2015 to foster police and community partnerships. Greg’s Groceries provides a week’s worth of non-perishable groceries for a family of four. The groceries are boxed up in Columbia, where Serve & Connect is based, and where law enforcement agencies that have signed up for the program can collect them.
The program is named in honor of Gregory Alia, a Forest Acres police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2015. His wife, Kassy, started it as a Columbia-based project. Now it has expanded statewide.
Initially, the Beaufort Police Department signed up for 50 boxes, which they picked up on Sept. 30, 2021. Officers put boxes in their patrol cars and distributed them over the next few months during interactions with the community – maybe while answering a call, or while stopping to check on someone during patrol.
Officer Petrone plans to continue this program and take advantage of it several times a year, and aims for 75 boxes next time. There is no cost to the Police Department for this, as the food is supplied by Serve & Connect.
Chill with a Cop
The department began Chill with a Cop in 2021, and hopes to ramp it up this year. It’s a half-day of outdoor activities at a local park “anytime kids are on a break,” Petrone said. Last year, the department held events during the summer at Southside Park (photo above), Pigeon Point Park, Washington Street Park, and hosted a family movie during the holidays at Henry C. Chamber Waterfront Park.
The PD supplies all the equipment for games and sports, and invites kids in the City to come by. First responders from the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department and Beaufort County Emergency Medical Services also drop in to play games. Officer Petrone is hoping to pull together an event for April during spring break, she said.
“It’s a way for kids and their families to meet with police officers in a fun and friendly environment,” she said. “Community relations are very important to us, and Chill with a Cop is one of the ways we can demonstrate that, and have fun while we are doing it.”
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