AIKEN -A crime prevention program that proved successful at New Hope Community in Graniteville has been expanded to public housing communities in Salley and Wagener.
As of June 20, Aiken County deputies who belong to the sheriff's office Kilo unit temporarily added public housing units in those two towns to their regular patrol duties at New Hope, said Lt. Michael Frank, spokesman for the sheriff's office.
In the near future, at least one officer, whose salary will be paid by the housing authority, will be assigned permanent duty in the area, he said.
"We approached the officials of the South Carolina Regional Housing Authority #3 about providing protection to residents there," he said. "One, because we had success with New Hope in Graniteville. And, we were getting a lot of information on drug activity in the Wagener and Salley public housing areas."
Peggy Kirkland, the housing authority's initiative coordinator for the area, said housing officials within the past year had noticed an increase in drug activity.
"We don't want that," she said.
Before the three-man Kilo unit went into New Hope, incidents reports filed with the sheriff's office showed that in April, May and June 1995, there were 16 larcenies, 14 drug busts, five burglaries and one sexual assault. Six months after the unit began patrolling New Hope in July 1996, the sheriff's office handled three burglaries, 43 larcenies, three sexual assaults and 64 drug busts.
One result of the heightened presence in the area, police said, is that residents are more willing to report crimes.
In addition to the extra patrols in the area, the sheriff's office is also working with residents to form neighborhood watch groups, Lt. Frank said.
About two dozen residents attended a crime prevention meeting in Salley recently, and another meeting is planned for the Wagener area, he said.