COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Richland County Sheriff's Department has added the words "Peace Officer" to its entire fleet of marked patrol vehicles.
Sheriff Leon Lott revealed the unique law enforcement vehicles on Jan 31.
The initiative led by Police2Peace wants to create better interactions between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
"This change could set the standard for law enforcement around the country by proving that including the words 'Peace Officer' on our vehicles can shift public perception," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. "We're thrilled to be the first Department of our kind to be involved in this cutting edge research."
BetaGov, an independent research collaboration of NYU and UCLA, will study the decal change and its impact. They will conduct surveys with deputies and the community to look for changes in community complaints and commendations.
"We are extremely excited to be conducting this study," Dr. Angela Hawken, the founder and director of BetaGov said. "Because of the size of the fleet of the Richland County Sheriff's Department, verifiable results can readily be obtained."
The Sheriff's Department's participation in the Police2Peace program adding the words "Peace Officer" to the agency's fleet and the study on its impact, will come at no cost to the Department.
"It's a powerful moment in history to be a part of this initiative and research," Lisa Broderick, Executive Director of Police2Peace said. "We look forward to Sheriff Lott and his Department further examining how the power of words can highlight common ground between law enforcement and communities across America."