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Peace Officer – Setting The Standard from Live PD to Iraq with Sheriff Leon Lott

Rather you like it or not, you are influencing others with your words and actions. You could be a positive or a negative influence on your own children or others in the community. Do you know how you’re words and actions impact and influence others? This conversation may open your eyes a bit.

Meet our Feature Guest

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott leads one of the largest sheriff’s departments in the southeastern United States. Often referred to as “America’s Law Enforcement Agency,” the near 1,000-employee Richland County Sheriff’s Dept. (RCSD) is one of the regularly featured law-enforcement agencies on the A&E television series LIVE PD, and is the only which has been with the program since it first aired in Oct. 2016. Sheriff Lott is a 43-year career law enforcement officer who has served as the Sheriff of Richland County for more than 20 years.

Recognized as “one of the most creatively innovative, bridge-building law enforcement leaders in the nation, even internationally,” in 2010 Lott traveled to Erbil, Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to help that war-torn country establish its first-ever female police academy. RCSD continues its strong relationship and an officer exchange program with Iraq, as it does with other foreign law enforcement agencies, as well as U.S. military forces domestically. Under Lott’s leadership, RCSD was the first law enforcement agency in the nation to establish a pre-PTSD conditioning program for deputies and other officers. This training is mandatory for all RCSD deputies. Sheriff Lott also commands the South Carolina State Guard at the rank of brigadier general.

January 2018, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) became the first sheriff’s office in the country to conduct research on the impact of adding the words “PEACE OFFICER” to its fleet of 600-plus marked patrol vehicles. The success of this first-ever PEACE OFFICER identity initiative is now measurable. Simple Cost Effective Program Demonstrates Change is Possible As part of a charitable initiative operated by the nonprofit Police2Peace, the RCSD study commenced in January 2018. The randomized controlled trial collected data from RCSD’s eight regions, which had the wording “PEACE OFFICER” placed on certain patrol vehicles and not on others. Data was collected through surveys of RCSD deputies, employees, and the citizens living and working within the county’s various communities. The objective was to gauge the impact on citizens seeing, and officers driving vehicles, displaying “PEACE OFFICER” decals. In other areas surveyed, the designation did not appear on patrol vehicles. Following the sixmonth study period, PEACE OFFICER decals were then placed on all vehicles surveyed during the research project. Among community members surveyed since Jan. 2018, nearly 90% “strongly agreed” that the community “is generally very supportive” of RCSD. More than 75% of those within the community who had seen the decals “strongly agreed that “the community is generally safe” as opposed to 55% who did not see the decals. When the question was posed, “Do you think people can change?” Nearly 90% who saw the decals “strongly agreed” as opposed to about 65% who did not see the decals. Sheriff Leon Lott, Leading the Pilot Program “We do so much more than simply enforce the law,” says Sherriff Lott. “We do enforce the law to be sure, but peace officer is a more accurate description of who we are and what we do. We are keeping the peace. We’re building strong relationships. And we’re educating the citizens we serve how to best to safeguard themselves from all threats. With the words PEACE OFFICER on our cars, we are getting people to talk about what a peace officer really is. We are changing perceptions and we are redefining what we do and what being a peace officer means to us individually and as a department.”

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