Richland County Sheriff’s Capt. Michael Prichett was on a different kind of hunt Tuesday.
He and a handful of other deputies from the department’s Special Response and Community Action teams went door to door to several businesses along North Main Street, asking managers and owners to call law enforcement when having problems with panhandlers and loiterers.
Deputies also handed out letters signed by Sheriff Leon Lott that asked business owners to not allow loiterers, drug activity, alcohol consumption or other criminal activity to take place on their property.
Prichett said the decision to send several deputies at the same time was to show the community that the department is listening to their complaints, which involved shots being fired at night, prostitution and even drug deals.
Melissa Kim, acting manager of the Northmain Fish Market, said her business has issues with panhandlers who approach people withdrawing cash at the ATM in the parking lot and pressure them into buying them food or into giving them money for the bus.
Prichett walked up to several businesses personally, aside from the fish market, including Damon’s Barber Shop and Beauty World. All welcomed the department’s help.
“We were very well received,” Prichett said. “People were talking freely. I think they appreciate what we’re doing and they want to see more of us. So, we’re going to give them that.”