Sheriff brings quick changes to Pageland PD

PAGELAND, S.C. — All but four of the officers who walked off the job at the Pageland Police Department last week have returned to work.
 
Officers resigned after Pageland town leaders agreed to return police Chief Larry Brown to his post.  
 
Brown had been off the job on administrative leave since November during a criminal investigation by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
 
SLED has not released details of that investigation but town leaders believed no criminal charges would be filed against the chief.
 
However the day after Brown's return, Pageland had no officers on the streets and Chesterfield County Sheriff Jay Brooks had to call in deputies to cover their shifts.
 
Brooks was asked by town leaders to take over the department in Brown's place for an undetermined amount of time.
 
On Tuesday, Brooks told Channel 9 he has made several key changes at the Pageland Police Department.
 
Pageland officers all now have body cameras for the first time. A few were purchased by the sheriff. Others were spares from his office.
 
Brooks also shut down the city jail which he calls a liability because of poor record keeping and training. He said if something ever happened there it could be catastrophic to the city.
 
"There was a gross deficiency in paperwork, training and documentation for the jailers that were here," he said.
 
The jail will reopen once he believes it can pass a state inspection.
 
The sheriff has also focused on department policy.  
 
He said the Standard Operating Procedure book is outdated and not up to today's law enforcement standards.
 
"We pretty much canned that completely and started over with a brand new one," he said.
 
Sheriff's deputies will begin training Pageland officers on modern policing standards sometime next week, Brooks said.
 
Outside the police department, residents said they have seen a difference in other ways.  
 
The sheriff has returned to community policing where officers walk the streets and talk to business owners.
 
Shop owner Mack Nicholson owns a store called Melon Beach.
 
He called the new approach a good step forward.
 
"It makes me feel very good, just seeing more officers out there," he said.
 
Across the street at her shop, Andrea Woods has noticed officers stopping by too.
 
"They're in here two or three times a week. I feel absolutely safe and secure," she said.
 
Brooks told Channel 9 he's asked Brown to come up with a 30-day, 60-day, 90-day and six-month plan for the department with defined, achievable goals.
 
The plan is still for Brown to take over the department again at some point, though it's unclear when.
 
That investigation into the chief is still not closed, SLED told Channel 9 on Tuesday.