Breakfast at Tiffany’s (with a cop)

By Brian Garner, The News & Reporter
Original article HERE

If the citizens of Great Falls didn’t know Max Dorsey, Chester County’s new interim sheriff before, they sure do now. Tuesday morning, Dorsey and some of his deputies hosted a “Coffee with a Cop” event at Tiffany’s Diner in Great Falls (with the help of diner owner Tiffany Craig) and then Dorsey went on to visit with some of the seniors at the Great Falls Senior Center and talk to them about law enforcement issues.

Both visits were part of Dorsey’s plan to show Great Falls they are part of the county, too and that he is every much their sheriff as he is Chester’s or any other place in the county.

“A Coffee with a Cop event is important because it is important for communities to know their law enforcement officers are. The police are supposed to be members of the community – we do have a number of Sheriff’s Office employees who live outside of Chester County, but I want them to be actively engaged in the community. And so I want the community members to feel like these are people that are approachable, they are public servants and they need to be accessible,” Dorsey said.

He said he chose Great Falls as the site of the first of a series of these meetings of citizens and sheriff’s officers because while he knows most of the county because he’s lived here all of his life, the area was one that he wasn’t that familiar with.

“When I was in high school, I worked at a lumber yard in Chester and delivered lumber down here, but I knew very little about Great Falls. Over my career at SLED, I have worked several cases down here and gotten to know a few members of the community. I think this is a special place,” he said.

“I wanted the people of Great Falls to understand that just because they are Great Falls, that doesn’t mean they aren’t part of Chester County,” he said.

The citizens are in the corner of three counties – Chester, Lancaster and Fairfield, and they choose where they shop and “I want them to know they are part of Chester County and as their sheriff, I am their servant,” he said.

As a fine example of the cooperation among law enforcement agencies that Dorsey wants to foster, at his table in Tiffany’s that morning was Dorsey, Solicitor Randy Newman, Deputy Al Crawford, Great Falls Police Chief Steven Rice and Fort Lawn Police Chief David Hayes. A Great Falls Fire Department firefighter was also in the diner as well as S.C. DNR law enforcement.

Local officials were also present like Great Falls Town Council members and Chester County Councilman Mike Vaughn.

The most important thing everyone in the diner had in common, Dorsey said, was they all recognized the value of community, “and how important it was for us all to sit around and fellowship with one another. There is no agenda, other than just getting to know one another.

“That’s what I wanted to do – for people to know who I am personally. I want them to know the personal side of Max Dorsey.”

Solicitor Randy Newman thought the Coffee with a Cop was a great way to meet with the community and see what they think and added, “like it or not, they’ll tell us how we’re doing,” he said. He met a juror Tuesday morning who served on a trial in Chester and the former juror told Newman the Solicitor’s Office was doing a good job.

In between dispensing plates of scrambled eggs and making sure coffee cups and tea cups were filled, restaurant owner Tiffany Craig said she and Dorsey planned the first Coffee with a Cop series in that location because Dorsey wanted to let people in the area know “they were important as well,” she said.

Great Falls Police Chief Steven Rice said cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office is an important element in policing the county.

“Anytime you have cooperation with multiple agencies the benefit is to the public, because you have access to all the resources at one time, all the abilities of each resource at the same time – it’s more beneficial for everybody, the agencies as well as the people. It’s better service,” Rice said.

Chief Rice and Fort Lawn Chief David Hayes said Dorsey’s example of community policing might inspire them to plan their own Coffee with a Cop type of gatherings.

Rice said when you do an event like this on with a larger group, there’s more impact beyond the familiar officers the community sees each day, but “anytime you can get with the community, get hands on in a personal relationship it’s better for everybody,” he said.

Mike Vaughn, the Chester County Councilman who represents the Great Falls area remarked on the improvement of communication all around from law enforcement and the county.

“This is the direction we need to be moving in and I applaud Sheriff Dorsey for beginning this and I think it will start a trend for all the municipalities in the county. It can only be good for law enforcement. We have some serious problems in this county, and this is a way to defeat them,” Vaughn said.

Dorsey talks scams, safety at Great Falls Senior Center

Citizens at the Great Falls Senior got a visit from their sheriff Tuesday morning as Chester County interim Sheriff Max Dorsey made a stop at the center. And letting them know that he was their sheriff, their public servant, was part of the message he wanted to convey, he told them.

Dorsey stopped in to the fellowship hall of the Great Falls Presbyterian Church (where the center is located) and even joined in on the singing as the seniors sang out with a couple of familiar old hymns.

Dorsey told the seniors a little bit of his law enforcement background, emphasizing his 24 years in SLED and his experience in the Narcotics Department.

“Drug enforcement has been my background for over 30 years and I’m very passionate about it,” he said.

Dorsey told the seniors he was appointed to the position of interim sheriff “due to some unfortunate events that happened in our county. The Governor asked me to serve in this role and that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to serve in this role until that changes. I don’t know what my future holds, but the old saying is I know who holds my future,” he said.

“What I have been charged to do here during my time is to be your sheriff, to be your servant to be your public servant, to keep you safe and do all that I can to give back to this community that has given me so much,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey talked next about marrying his high school sweetheart, moving back to Chester County and raising his kids in Chester County.

“This is my home and I care about it; and this is your home too. I care about you, I care about your safety and I care about protecting your property. My goal at the Sheriff’s Office is to allocate the resources under my authority to make sure they can get out there on the road and in the streets to keep you safe, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Dorsey said.

He added he has made some changes in the Sheriff’s Office with an eye towards the goal of getting more deputies out on the road. He also mentioned the Memorandum of Understanding the Sheriff’s Office and Chester County signed with the Chester County School District to put more School Resource Officers in the schools.

Sheriff Dorsey then turned the talk to discussions of the drug problem plaguing not only Chester County but surrounding areas as well.

“Who in here knows of a crime that has taken place that has some kind of connection to drugs? Everybody does. We are all impacted by crime,” he said.

“Drugs are the nexus for most of our crime, not just in Chester County, but really, in America…a lot of that has to do with addiction – so if it weren’t for those customers who are addicted to the drugs, there would be no need for the drug trafficker. But there is – it’s basic economics, the law of supply and demand. As long as we have a demand for a drug, there will be a supply,” he said.

Society has looked at the users of the drugs as the bad guy for a long time, and sometimes they are, Dorsey pointed out. “Sometimes they are breaking in your house or stealing your car or breaking into your car. Those are crimes associated with those addictions.

“What we have to do as a community is come up with a different way to address these addictions – the criminal justice system for too long has been used as the answer to all of our problems…and that’s just not the case,” he said, adding that the crimes such as breaking into homes and cars should still be punished.

“They are crimes and they involve victims, and victims should be heard and those people need to be held accountable. But when you look at the underlying cause, that drug addiction, we have to find another solution,” Dorsey said. He said he is partnering with different agencies and local community groups to offer the people struggling with addictions another option besides committing crimes to feed the addictions.

The keys are community and communication, Dorsey pointed out, talking briefly about the Coffee with a Cop series he has begun.

“I stated it here because I want Great Falls to know that you’re a part of us. My thought is for so long Great Falls has felt they’re ‘that small town down there in the corner that nobody thinks about’ (and if that’s the perception, my goal is to change that).

“I don’t want you to feel like that – I want you to know that you’re a part of Chester County,” Dorsey said.

“My message is just because you’re down here on the bottom end of the county, I want you to know that your sheriff is here at your service. I am a public servant to all who live, work and play in Chester County,” Dorsey said.

He said even though Chester County Sheriff’s Office has limited resources and limited funds, “That doesn’t mean that your problems and crimes are not important. Everything that goes on in your life from a safety perspective is important to us,” he said.