Greene County Sheriff’s Office cleans up all year long

By Susan Gibbs

The county’s roadsides are a lot better looking since Sheriff Steve Smith took office in January 2012, thanks to his utilization of two state initiatives: the Offender-Work Program and the Assign-A-Highway Project.

For years, the Greene County Ruritans have sponsored a twice-yearly road clean-up composed of community volunteers, but their efforts have been have been more than enhanced by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.

Through the Central Virginia Regional Jail’s Offender-Work Program, “we have used supervised prisoners who are non-violent two or three times this year to pick up trash on highways , and they pick up about 40 bags a day “ says Smith’s chief deputy, Maj. Russell Lane.

The non-violent offenders who have committed minor infractions, or “trustees,” have volunteered to work without pay in the hope of reducing their sentences, and are usually accompanied by Smith, Lane adds. “Most recently they have cleaned up along (State Route) 810 and (US Route) 33.”

On the other hand, the Assign-A-Highway Project utilizes probations assigned to pick up litter along the roads. The assignments are written into court documents as conditions of the probation. Participants are then assigned a section of highway that is to be cleaned up every two weeks.

“Sheriff Smith has worked with the Commonwealth’s attorney, the circuit court judge and the Virginia Department of Transportation to bring the Assign-A-Highway Project to Greene,” says Steve Keene, program manager for the Planning and Programs Division at the Sheriff’s Office.

According to the state Web site that describes the program (http://uppertnriver.org/assign/home.php) the beauty of the program is that it requires no direct supervision. A probationer can pick up the litter any time, day or night, as long as it is cleaned prior to the twice-monthly inspections by the litter officer.

 

Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith

Also according to the Web site, the program has seen great success in other counties due to the fact that probationers are motivated by the thought of having their probation revoked if they fail to meet the terms and conditions imposed by the court. Others are motivated by wanting to redeem themselves in the eyes of the community. In some places, many probationers reportedly have asked for more roadways to clean and most have admonished their families and friends about throwing down litter.

The site further points out that litter hurts tourism, discourages industry prospects from locating in an area, and says a lot about obvious lack of respect for the environment and communities. The Assign-A-Highway Program benefits the county by allowing it to keep its roads litter free for a relatively low cost.

In Greene County probationers are everywhere, cleaning up roads,” says Keene.

But both programs cost, and donations are actively solicited. They can be sent by mail to: Greene County Sheriff’s Office, 10005 Spotswood Trail, Stanardsville, VA 22973.

Other programs operated by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office include, in alphabetical order, but are not limited to:

  • Citizen Criminal Justice Academy takes place in the spring and the fall, when citizens 18 and older can participate in this 10-week program that introduces them to the three components of criminal justice: law enforcement, court processes and corrections.
  • Community Emergency Response Teams, which consist of trained members who fill a vital role in the moments following an emergency before first responders arrive on scene. Training involves basic disaster preparedness, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, triage and first aid, disaster psychology and terrorism awareness. Members also support emergency response agencies by taking a more active role in emergency preparedness projects in their community, both in spreading the word about preparedness and in assisting agencies during response operations.
  • Eddie Eagle Gun safe Program teaches children in pre-kindergarten through third grade four important steps to take if they find a gun in an easy-to-remember format: If you see a gun Stop! Don’t Touch! Leave the Area! Tell an Adult!
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force which helps federal, state and local law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative responses to offenders who use the Internet, online communication systems, or computer technology to sexually exploit children.
  • Refuse To Be A Victim offers program participants personal safety tips and techniques to avoid dangerous situations and victimization.
  • Ride-Along Program allows participants to get a first-hand experience of what law enforcement work is all about.
  • Student Internship Program is designed for those interested in pursuing a career in the criminal justice field. Interns provide useful human services as they obtain course credits to complete individual groundwork and gain valuable first-hand experience.
  • TRIAD is a cooperative effort between the Sheriff’s Office, senior citizens and senior organizations that focuses on reducing crimes against seniors.
  • USA On Watch is the national umbrella for Neighborhood Watch, one of the oldest and most well-known crime prevention concepts in history. Neighborhood Watch id dedicated to the prevention and reduction of crime at the neighborhood level via time-tested practices such as “eyes-and-ears” training and target-hardening techniques.
  • Volunteers in Police Services, which provides opportunities for people to participate in a range of measures to make their families, their homes and their communities safer from threats of crime, terrorism and disasters of all kinds.
  • Youth Outreach and Faith-Based Support promotes local and regional programs that focus on crime reduction through the assurance of appropriate punishment, increased rehabilitation efforts, re-entry initiatives, and job placement.

For more information on these and other programs offered by the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, visit http://www.greenecountysheriffva.com/programs.htm.

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