Better law enforcement

Putting law enforcement officers where the crime is makes sense. With the help of upgraded technology, the York County Sheriff's Office hopes to do just that.

A new program dubbed PROSTAR, which launches in May, will split the county into four districts with deputies assigned to patrol specific districts. That should be more efficient than requiring deputies to respond to calls across the entire county.

Sheriff Bruce Bryant notes that with the countywide emergency radio system in place and with laptops in all patrol cars, officers can communicate and fill out reports electronically. That allows more officers to remain on the scene rather than traveling back and forth to headquarters to file reports.

Under the new system, a lieutenant will be placed in charge of each of the four districts. In the past, one lieutenant had been in charge of overseeing the entire county for one of four daily shifts, with a new lieutenant taking over at each shift. The PROSTAR system will allow the lieutenant in charge to focus on crime in one area of the county, not all 685 square miles.

Rock Hill police have been using a similar system since early 2007. Department officials say it has enabled officers to make significant reductions in crimes prevalent in a particular area, such as breaking into cars and armed robberies.

York County recently was named the fastest-growing county in the state. Part of the downside of that growth was 17,000 more calls for police service in 2007 compared to 2006, according to the sheriff's office.

Bryant thinks the new system should do a better job of putting enforcement where the problem exists. It seems likely that this basic change could make a big difference in the county's ability to fight crime.