January 24, 2019
Increase in Law Enforcement Coverage Coming March 2019
In late 2017, Mayor Weaver convened a task force to take a fresh look at how the Town of Kiawah should provide law enforcement services. For over a decade, the Town has employed Charleston County Sheriff Deputies to patrol the island in their off hours. These “off duty” deputies have always been and continue to be fully equipped and authorized to provide any and all law enforcement services while present on the island. This approach worked for many years, but with deputies in high demand and other communities using this same model, the Town found it increasingly difficult to secure consistent coverage. Covering the day shift has been the most common challenge. Looking out even a few years, the task force concluded that Kiawah, with a growing population of both full and part-time residents, along with a new five-star resort and conference center, needed more consistent and focused coverage.
After visiting several other resort communities, the task force made two important conclusions. First, creating a local police force is a prohibitively expensive option, fraught with management and overhead issues. And second, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) is a premier law enforcement organization with capabilities and expertise that benefit Kiawah. The recommendation to the Town Council was to work with the CCSO to secure a higher level of deputy coverage than the CCSO was obligated to provide to a town of Kiawah’s size and incident experience.
Starting in March 2019, the CCSO will permanently assign four full time, experienced deputies to Kiawah. These deputies will cover the first shift, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They will be in fully equipped and in marked vehicles. The Town will compensate the CCSO for this added level of coverage, just as the Town has done with the individual deputies. The Town will bear an added cost for startup expenses, with the CCSO committing to cover vacations, sick time, and training absences with additional personnel at no added expense to the Town.