DES partners with sheriff's office
A Richland County Sheriff's deputy unleashes pepper spray into the face of a reserve trainee during a recent training exercise.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Nine Fort Jackson law enforcement officers will be sworn in later this month as reserve deputies for the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

"This is a way for the two agencies to work together," said Col. Ronald Taylor, provost marshal. "We provide them with additional manpower, and they provide us with more training, which in turn gives Fort Jackson a more competent law enforcement agency. At no time will our guys be the sole officer in the car. They will be riding along with Richland County officers."

Sheriff Leon Lott said the program is a win-win situation for Fort Jackson and Richland County and allows the department to dispatch one car instead of two.

"These officers will go out and supplement our manpower," Lott said. "Being a reserve deputy gives them the ability to do anything in the sheriff's office. So we will be able to use them in all kinds of different areas, like narcotics and investigations."

The officers, who will volunteer 20 hours a month, began their reserve program training in May. During that time they were trained in law enforcement techniques not typically used in a military environment. All nine officers, who are either DA civilians or Military Police, trained at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and passed the South Carolina Law Enforcement Exam.

"We went through everything from constitutional law to evidence and Miranda rights," Taylor said. "As an MP or DA guy, you are not trained on these specific laws and case laws."

In addition to law, Fort Jackson officers received training on juvenile law, use of force and handcuffing, as well as pepper spray and baton certifications. Officers in the reserve program, who qualify on their weapon two times a year, will now have to qualify four times a year.

"We already do this training but anytime we get an opportunity to do additional training with an outside law enforcement agency, it is a benefit," Taylor said.

Perhaps the most beneficial training Fort Jackson officers will receive is how to deal with civilians.

"An MP grew up in the fighting force in the Army. (MPs) haven't had to deal with child neglect or juveniles," Taylor said. "Fort Jackson has a huge amount of visitor traffic. (The visitors) start trickling in on Tuesday and stay until Friday. This training will help our officers better deal with an elderly person who becomes disoriented and lost on Family Day, or a juvenile skateboarding without a helmet."

Fort Jackson and Richland County have worked together in the past on projects such as special response teams and have memorandums of understanding for canine support and emergency operations. The sheriff's department recently participated in the installation's mass casualty exercise, providing a special response team for the active shooter scenario.

"Sheriff Lott and I have a pretty good relationship," Taylor said. "We try to look at ways of supporting each other. We have a great rapport."

Lott said the department has hired former Fort Jackson police officers and MPs.

"We don't have to do recruiting because we are able to hire Soldiers once they leave the military," Lott said. "The reserve program is a good stepping stone for those who want to retire from the military and get on board with us. The training and maturity level Soldiers have is one of the reasons we have been so successful."

The swearing in ceremony, Lott said, will be held at Fort Jackson sometime later this month.

"We want to do it on Fort Jackson and make a big deal about it," Lott said. "This program will strengthen an already strong relationship between the sheriff's department and Fort Jackson."

Page last updated Wed September 15th, 2010 at 16:11