As we have seen nationwide, the Town of Bluffton is experiencing a decrease in job applicants and are feeling a recruitment crisis. As our town usually does with every project, the police department is also thinking outside the box and looking for new approaches to handling new officers.

Bluffton PD Chief Stephenie Price had a meeting with several other chiefs and sheriff’s department leaders that represent Lowcountry law enforcement agencies to discuss a new concept of unifying our resources to host a hiring event this summer, during the last week in June.

The plan is to hold one mass event this summer in which we will offer a physical agility test and a standardized Police Officer Selection Test (POST) written exam. Following these tests, candidates will meet with representatives from all the agencies in attendance, and they can decide with whom they would like to apply.

This is an example of how partnerships create progress. We believe that all of our law enforcement agencies will benefit from this opportunity.

Mental health is a very real issue for many people and is often the cause for police calls. To help our officers understand this national issue, the department staff will undergo special training May 24-28at the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. The training, through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) consists of a 35-hour NAMI Crisis Intervention Team class.

A Crisis Intervention Team is a police mental health collaborative program founded in North America and is often used to describe both a program and a training in law enforcement to help guide interactions between law enforcement and those living with a mental illness.

CIT training and mental health awareness is a BPD strategic objective. Our goal is to have 50% of our operational staff CIT trained by the end of 2021 to better serve our community.

The department’s CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) Gold Standard Assessment procedures started at the beginning of this month.  As a reminder, this was an initiative that former Chief David McAllister pushed for our department and we have successfully been part of the accreditation for many years.

This rigorous assessment consists of over 100 standards and procedures that are reviewed. We are very proud to be part of a dual accredited agency, meaning it holds certificates of accreditation with CALEA and the state of South Carolina.

I hope you are following the social media pages with Instagram and Facebook to see what our men and women in blue are doing for all of us.

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton.