Effective as of October 7, responsibility for the operations and management of the Beaufort County Emergency Management, Communications/E911, and Traffic Management Center was officially transferred under the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.
Prior to 1989, the management of these essential county services fell under the Office of the Sheriff. However, the advent of the E911 system and growth of the county led to the eventual separation of Emergency Management and Communications into a separate entity, under the control of Beaufort County.
Discussions began earlier this year between Sheriff PJ Tanner and County Administrator Gary Kubic to once again consolidate these services as well as the Traffic Management Center with the Sheriff’s Office. These services have always remained closely aligned with the Sheriff’s Office, through hurricane preparedness measures and the assignment of deputies to fulfill traffic safety grant requirements.
Sixteen other sheriff’s offices in the state currently operate with a similar structure that includes emergency operations into a single chain of command. In accordance with SC state law, the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer responsible for the safe evacuation of the county, naturally leading to a consolidated approach to resource management.
As the strengths and weaknesses of the separation of entities were examined, it became readily apparent to both County and Sheriff’s Office administrators that the best use of resources was in returning to a combined management structure.
The consolidation of services will allow for maximum efficiency as the Sheriff’s Office works to extend the standards of CALEA accreditation to Emergency Management. This will also allow for a more seamless integration of the new state-of-the art computer-aided dispatch system throughout the county’s emergency services, which in turn will facilitate a regional approach to information sharing.
The new Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Management Division will be overseen by Division Commander Lieutenant Colonel Neil Baxley. This division will include Emergency Management, Communications, Dispatch, E911, HAZMAT response, and NCIC (National Criminal Information Center) access.