A few additions were noticeable at the Burke County Sheriff’s Office during a tour of its facility and detention center Tuesday.
The office has some new technology, equipment and updated infrastructure. For instance, new monitors showing officers’ whereabouts and movements hung inside the department’s dispatch office and new computers have been added to patrol cars.
“Having met with the former sheriff we had a pretty good idea of what was going on (in the sheriff’s office) and we started to build on the foundation that he had laid,” said Sheriff Alfonzo Williams, who took office in 2017.
Weapons and uniforms were also updated and 30 new employees were added to implement new divisions for the office, Williams said. Several initiatives were also introduced this past year to improve relationships with the community.
“We started some community service initiatives where we really got out into the community and opened up this agency to create some transparency, and we started to build trust right away,” Williams said. “I kind of like to say the clean-up starts before the crisis occurs, and that is we have to get out and form partnerships and relationships so that when we have a problem we are already established.”
The initiatives worked as a “management tool” for inmates as well, Williams said.
Mattresses were recently replaced for inmates and televisions have been added to each of the two cell blocks where inmates are housed.
“It gives them an incentive to do well and to have good respectable behavior,” Williams said regarding the television monitors. “It’s a very necessary tool that most people will frown upon but it’s a management tool for us.”
Along with various changes to its policy and procedures for the jail, repairs have been made in and around the 30-year-old building.
“We’re doing a whole lot of managing by the numbers and doing things not just because that’s the way we’ve done them but we’re able to look at data to tell us how best to utilize our resources,” Williams said. “And we’re very happy with that.”