BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) — Beaufort County Sheriff PJ tanner was officially sworn in for a seventh term in office and he is already working on initiatives to make the community safer.

Tanner has worked for the sheriff’s office for four decades. Three of those overseeing all the deputies in the area. He admits a lot has changed during his time in office but he and the entire department are adapting to keep criminals off the streets.

“You always have to look at what changes you need to make internally and externally to make being a law enforcement officer an attractive profession,” Tanner said.

Recruitment is foremost on Tanner’s mind. He said it’s no longer a passion for people to be in law enforcement and now you have to prove to them why it’s a job and a career for them.

“It’s imperative that we stay on the cutting edge of whatever the technology is offered in a civilian market like law enforcement,” Tanner said.

When it comes to enforcing the law, Tanner points to one big issue: drugs. That is the basis for the majority of crimes we see.

“Why are they stealing? They are not stealing because they need to provide for their family,” Tanner said. “They are not stealing as a challenge, in most cases, they have a drug problem or an alcohol problem and that’s what they are doing to create the revenue to  support their habit.”

“Eighty percent of our crime in Beaufort County — you can take any county in South Carolina and apply the same number,” Tanner said. “Twenty percent of the people we deal with are committing 80% of the crime. We have to get better at dealing with that percentage.”

His other focus this term: school safety.

Tanner promised to work on a new school resource officer (SRO) program during his campaign and now that project and a training program specifically designed for deputies in school is about to be unveiled.

The sheriff believes it will draw more people to the profession who want to focus on keeping kids and the classrooms safe.

“To raise that level of security and we do it with that level of maturity with people that want to be an SRO, that brings their maturity and life experience to the table and it makes the program that much better,” Tanner said. 

Tanner is hoping that retired military, former police or sheriff, or someone with a passion for kids will be drawn to the new program which will give them the same privileges as any other deputy but be specifically trained and designed for schools.

The curriculum was approved by the state and will be unveiled next week.