Columbia Star

Lower Richland Alumni Foundation launches Community Cares Project

Dr. Cleveland Wilson Jr., director of the Lower Richland Alumni Foundation, has launched The Lower Richland Community Cares Project, an initiative to decrease crime in areas stretching from the Congaree Swamp north to the Sumter Highway (U.S. Hwy. 76).

“If crime is to be reduced, all stakeholders must work together in unison to make this happen,” said Wilson.

The initiative, which has been in the planning stage for nearly two years, will be implemented over the next 12 months.

The foundation will utilize neighborhood-based crime reduction best-practices and data-driven strategic approaches. The early objectives are to:

1. Reduce persistent serious, violent, and other crimes that negatively impact Lower Richland;

2. Identify, examine, and provide solutions to the various conditions that contribute to specific hot spot crime areas and crime types;

3. Decrease the number of physical conditions that increase the risk of serious crimes; and

4. Implement crime reduction/prevention strategies to engage all areas.

Stakeholders include the local K-12 educational systems, area residents, churches, Greek organizations, technical and four-year colleges, businesses, and elected and governmental officials. Some of the new Lower Richland Community Cares Project initiatives are aimed at increasing law enforcement presence and engagement with neighborhood partners and various other stakeholders at predetermined locations. Those events/endeavors include:

1. Establishing the Richland County Sheriff Department’s Lower Richland Project L.E.A.D. (Learning, Educating and Developing) at multiple sites, under the direction of Sheriff Lott and in association with the Lower Richland Community Cares Project;

2. Creating multiple youth mentoring opportunities and adult advisory committees;

3. Sponsoring youth law enforcement weekend/evening/midnight basketball games and other sporting events; youth tutoring classes to improve academic performance among K-12 students; youth soft skills training; cookouts with law enforcement; field days; monthly/bi-monthly farmers/ fresh food market events; various church-related taskforce gatherings; Job Corps training sessions/ opportunities; ongoing technical college informational sessions and training ;and adult education opportunity sessions and training;

4. Establishing a Boys & Girls Club of America in the Lower Richland area; and

5. Partnering with the Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council (LRADAC), the South Carolina Challenge Academy at McEntire, area military recruiters, and mental health organizations to provide training, information sessions, and drug counseling.

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