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Retired police officers find way to keep serving with new group

Law enforcement isn't just a job -- it's a lifelong calling and a fraternity for more than 25 retired officers living in Beaufort County.

Formally launched last month, the Low Country Retired Law Enforcement Officers Organization aims to bridge the gap between area law enforcement and the citizenry its sworn to serve and protect, as well as aid the families of local officers killed or badly injured in the line of duty.

The group is the brainchild of John Pontillo, a 66-year-old Sun City Hilton Head resident and a 25-year veteran of the police force in Lodi, N.J.

Pontillo said the fledgling group has members of various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and meets about once a month.

The group's meetings give former cops the chance to reminisce about their days on the force, but he also hopes to see the group engage in more charitable pursuits.

"Our bottom line is charity work," Pontillo said. "We want to be able to help officers that are (killed in action) or have been disabled in the line of duty. That's where we want to go with this group."

Ed Elder, a 61-year-old former sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department now living in Sun City, said the group gives former law enforcement officers a chance to stay involved with the career they love and give back to the community.

"You really get that sense of camaraderie with other law enforcement officers, and you get to exchange law enforcement techniques that might be different in Los Angeles than they are in New York," Elder said. "As a law enforcement officer, you really never lose the willingness to stay involved with the community."

WANT TO JOIN?

The Low Country Law Enforcement Organization will meet at 6 p.m. today at Okatie Village in Bluffton. It is open to both active and retired law enforcement officers. Membership dues are $10 a year. Details: John Pontillo at jpontillo@sc.rr.com.

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