ORANGEBURG, S.C. — The Orangeburg Department of Public Safety has opened a community resource center at a local apartment complex.
“It was very quiet when I moved in. Crime rate did increase here and I just wanna get it back to the way it was when I first moved here," said resident Kimberly McKnight.
McKnight has been living in the Hampton Chase Apartments in Orangeburg for more than a decade. Now that the Department of Public Safety has created a safe haven close to home, she's hopeful the community will feel safer.
“If they see the officers here, I think the kids will feel more safe. Like we have playgrounds and more community events," said McKnight.
The safe haven will be staffed with a community liaison who will connect people in need to outside help. They can offer information to organizations providing legal support, housing assistance and more.
“Once we met with the residents in this community and heard their concerns, and the management was very forthcoming to work with us, it made sense for us to open the first safe haven in this community," said DPS Director Charles Austin.
The goal is to address issues directly impacting residents such as domestic violence and juvenile delinquency by offering support. Residents can get the information they need without leaving home, making it more accessible to them.
“This embodies the essence of community policing in its purest form. It is a shared responsibility, it is a partnership," said Austin.
Ultimately, the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety plans to assign a community safety officer to the safe haven. This person would respond to calls for assistance at the apartment complex.