Council Hires Second Officer

RIDGEWAY – Town Council voted unanimously during their Nov. 14 meeting to offer a part-time police officer position to Malcolm Little. The vote followed an executive session to discuss what the agenda listed as a ‘personnel matter regarding utilities’ and a ‘personnel matter regarding the Police Department.’ The addition of the new position would give the Town a second part-time police officer.

Little, who currently lives in Rock Hill, put in 12 years of service with the N.Y. City Police Department, form 1997 to 2009, before moving down South. He did a short stint with the Chester Sheriff’s Office, from May to August, 2011, before switching uniforms to the Chester Police Department, where he served from November 2011 to September 2012. Little is currently employed with G4S Special Police, a private security firm in Charlotte.

Little accepted the position earlier this week.

Besides the possibility of hiring Little, the Town’s increasing need for safety was discussed at length by Council. Mayor Charlene Herring suggested incorporating camera surveillance in the downtown area and presented quotes from three surveillance companies for the equipment and its installation. Core Surveillance had the lowest bid of $1,600, which would, Herring said, include cameras focused on the police station, the downtown area and on the backs and sides of most of the downtown buildings that sit between Palmer and Dogwood Streets.

“That’s not a lot to pay for security,” Herring said. “Plus it’s a deterrent [to crime.] We need to support and protect our merchants and our residents.”

Councilman Russ Brown questioned the need for surveillance for the town, asking, “Are we at the point that we need a surveillance system like this for our small town?”

Herring countered that it was an extra layer of protection for the downtown area since it doesn’t have a full-time police department. After considerable discussion, Council voted to table the matter until the next meeting.

The Town’s outside auditor, Howard Nichols, of Columbia reported that the Town’s audit was unqualified, explaining that the audit had no faults and that there were no big issues or problems in the Town’s bookkeeping.

“You have some good things going for you,” Nichols told Council, “especially your cash investments, which are roughly $776,000 in the general fund.”

He praised the Town Clerk, Vivian Case for her diligence in keeping the Town’s books.

Councilman Donald Prioleau again brought up the Town’s need for more security, asking Nichols if he had any suggestions about how the Town could come up with enough money to establish a full time police department.

“I frequently hear from the town’s residents that they would feel safer if we had a full-time police department,” Prioleau said.

Nichols advised that was an internal matter for the Town government, but that they might want to look into grants or other ways to raise funds to pay it. Nichols said that while the Town has commendable investments in its general fund, “You are paying a pretty good chunk of change on your water and sewer operations. It’s an expensive operation, so you might want to look to sources outside your budget for funding for more security.”

Herring reviewed upcoming events for the Town, including the Christmas Parade on Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. and Christmas on the Ridge on Dec. 6, from 5:30 – 8 p.m. She also reported that she had been looking into Department of Transportation sign grants and the possibility of placing signs on private property to bring interstate traffic to Ridgeway. Herring announced that Ridgeway has a new slogan – ‘Where History Still Lives’ – and that the Town is having its website redesigned.

In a final action, Council voted to pay for the repair of the exterior door frame that is rotting away on the Town’s building that houses Just Around the Corner consignment shop.

The December Council meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 12.