Case Studies

Violent Crime Reduction Project

State of South Carolina

SC Violent Crime Reduction ProjectIn 1999, South Carolina ranked second only to Florida in per capita violent crime rate. In May 2001, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) in the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, solicited proposals to substantially reduce violent crime in a targeted county during a two-year planning, implementation, and evaluation period. Justice Planning Associates (JPA) was selected by the State to develop and implement a strategy that would substantially reduce violent crime (defined as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault).

Orangeburg County was chosen as the targeted jurisdiction because it had a very high violent crime rate. On a per capita basis (crimes per 10,000 population), the County ranked number one in the state in 1999 and number two in 2000, with a violent crime rate nearly twice the state average (160.7 versus 86.5). JPA became convinced fairly early in the process that focusing on internal operations was the key to reducing violent crime in Orangeburg County. Specific attention was directed primarily on the two major law enforcement agencies in the County, and secondarily on the judicial process.

The recommended operational changes in law enforcement tended to center around broad operational policy, basic organizational structure, specific command responsibilities, specific personnel assignments, and specific operating procedures. Command realignments occurred in both the Sheriff’s Department and the Orangeburg Police Department, and some shifts in personnel assignments also took place in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency. Steps were taken to increase patrol deterrence through a zero tolerance policy, and to increase investigative deterrence through a significantly higher arrest rate. As for the judicial process, the goal was to increase deterrence by heightening the perception of swift and certain justice. The basic operating principle was that a scrupulous regard for fairness, professionalism, and the organized application of resources would produce an environment in which the historically-viable deterrent mechanisms of the justice system could work effectively.

By the conclusion of the project period, the actual number of violent offenses in Orangeburg County had decreased 22 percent and the violent crime rate had decreased 24 percent. For the first time, the County was well outside the top ten counties in violent crime rate. The changes have had a long-term effect. Based on the most recent published law enforcement data, the number of violent crimes are less than half what they were in 2000 and the violent crime rate of 67.5 is below the State average of 78.2. At last report, Orangeburg County ranks 37th out of 46 counties in violent crime rate.