“The people who don’t have it are the ones who give it”: Meeting with the SC Constables Association
On Tuesday March 7th, I had the opportunity to speak at the South Carolina Constables Association for the Midlands area.
Did you know that Constables are fully trained law enforcement officers that volunteer for service? As in, they are not allowed to get paid and they have to pay for their own equipment. Wow.
I was asked to join the meeting to share about Heroes In Blue. I was introduced by Keith Lindler, a constable who primarily works with Forest Acres Police Department (FAPD) in Columbia, S.C. Keith’s words touched me deeply. He described FAPD – a small department who is, in many ways, family. He recounted the loss of Greg – how heartbreaking it was to lose one of your very own. No matter how many times I live it, hearing the story always brings me back to those moments.
He then shared what Heroes In Blue has meant to him and invited me up to share.
At the end of my presentation, I asked for feedback from the group. We are working on developing our Compassionate Acts Program which will fund police-driven initiatives to build relationships with the community, and we very much want to hear from officers what their vision is. I started out by asking, “Think of the calls you have responded to. Have you ever had a call where you wish you could have helped someone but didn’t have the resources to do so?”
The answers started pouring out.
There was the example of that time officers came upon a homeless man by the State House stairs. They approached him to understand what was going on. They learned his name and that he had been brought over from Africa. He had nothing but the clothes on his back. The officers looked into his story and confirmed it. They tried to find him resources but couldn’t find ones he qualified for. The man said he would be happy to go back to his home but didn’t even know anyone anymore. The officers could tell he had mental health challenges and they seemed to be getting worse with time.
Then, there was the example of a call deputies went on. A woman was being evicted from a hotel. She was homeless and had been living there with her young child, but she had run out of money. The deputies tried to find her another place to stay, but couldn’t find one. So, they pooled their money together and bought her a few more nights.
Another constable shared about how he came upon a broken down car. The couple was deaf and mute in a rural area in S.C. They didn’t even have a dime in their wallet. A tow company towed the car for free but the couple did not have money to fix their car. The officers got together to get enough money so the car could be repaired.
Stories, one after the other. One constable shared how during the winter it gets so cold. There are shelters open, but no public transportation to get there. Officers are short staffed and try to bring them there, but can’t do it every time.
Story, after story, after story.
As we continued to reflect, one constable commented, “I’ve never seen a police officer back away. The people who don’t have it are the ones who give it.”
These stories will drive our efforts as we continue to shape our work. In the mean time, please join us in celebrating these heroes who go beyond the call of duty to take care of people – all people – in our community.
And, a huge thanks for the S.C. Constable Association for their warm welcome and generous donation of $100 to Heroes In Blue.
- Kassy Alia, President