The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office now has more manpower to respond to late-night crime on Hilton Head Island.
Town Council voted Tuesday to allow the sheriff to reduce the number of deputies on daytime traffic patrol and use them to police late-night crime. The vote was 5-0, with Councilmen Bill Harkins and George Williams absent.
The change ends a requirement that four deputies work traffic duty on the island. Currently, the four deputies must work traffic patrol from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to town ordinance.
Under the revision, Sheriff P.J. Tanner can assign the deputies based on need. They would mostly work from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., when most calls come in, according to Capt. Joey Woodward.
Never miss a local story.
Their duties will include responding to burglaries, patrolling areas with frequent car break-ins and policing late-night bars, Tanner has said.
The Sheriff's Office has assured council members that redirecting the deputies won't affect daytime traffic enforcement.
"We'll still write tickets. We'll still have deputies on the island," Woodward said. "But we'll also free deputies up for when we have the most calls for service."
Woodward said the combined forces of the Sheriff's Office and the S.C. Highway Patrol will continue to provide sufficient traffic enforcement on the island. Highway Patrol 1st Sgt. Dennis Boniecki agreed.
The amendment comes after council declined to give the Sheriff's Office additional money in this year's budget for more deputies.
In May, the sheriff asked for $437,567 to pay for three extra deputies to patrol the island. Instead, council decided to compromise by giving him more flexibility to set patrol schedules.
Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.