Hartsville gets proactive against violent crime - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Hartsville gets proactive against violent crime

Leaders hosted dozens of locals, city officials, and police, as they spoke face to face with convicted felons on how they plan to make their city safer. (WMBF News) Leaders hosted dozens of locals, city officials, and police, as they spoke face to face with convicted felons on how they plan to make their city safer. (WMBF News)
Hartsville city leaders took a proactive approach to crime Thursday night. (Source: WMBF News) Hartsville city leaders took a proactive approach to crime Thursday night. (Source: WMBF News)

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Hartsville city leaders took a proactive approach to crime Thursday night. Leaders hosted dozens of locals, city officials and police, who spoke face to face with convicted felons on how they plan to make their city safer. 

The message tonight was unorthodox, yet simple - to improve the quality of life in Hartsville by getting rid of violent crime. Leaders spoke directly to convicted felons, and let them know their city is here to help.

It was the first meeting of its kind, organized by the Hartsville Safe Communities Action Team. Several agencies came to speak directly to the repeat offenders, including Hartsville and Darlington police departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. All of them went off script, speaking from the heart, and dishing out tough love.

"All these people out here, and all these people up here are willing to give you guys a second chance and are willing to help you," said Captain Mitch Stanley with Hartsville PD.

"My daddy used to say, God rest his soul, that you can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink. But you can take a two-by-four and make him wish he had," said Darlington Police Chief, Danny Watson.

Federal, state and local agencies chose the group of offenders anonymously, as part of their probation. They gave each offender a number and their list of crimes with no pictures or names.

"I can't even imagine what y'all have been through in life. I don't know. We all make some decisions and sometimes we make some real bad ones, and I want y'all to know we understand that. Just know that we understand," said Hartsville Police Chief Jerry Thompson.

Another speaker was a convicted felon turned Pastor, who served a 10-year sentence and pleaded with the offenders to choose a different path for themselves and their families.

"You know I can speak for thousands of men in SCDC who won't go home. Who won't go home. But they're back there advocating 'don't come here.' Make the change in your life," said Morris.

Organizers also offered the group resources for job placement, counseling and education, in hopes that they may make positive choices and take back control of their lives.

Hartsville officials say this is just the first of many measures the city will take to ensure safety in their streets, and hopes to rehabilitate as many offenders as possible.

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