Aiken City Council gave a possible new retail business first approval Monday night as well as discussed the status of Aiken Public Safety, which has several new officers in training.
Council unanimously approved the first reading of Mattress Firm’s concept plan and annexation of the Whiskey Road property.
The retailer plans to construct a 4,500-square-foot store on the property after removing several buildings that are currently on the site.
The 1.03 acres is located at 2424 Whiskey Road, north of Lowe’s, and is currently owned by Evie B. Cheek Jones.
The second reading of this item will be held on Jan. 28.
Council also took some time to address crime concerns and Public Safety, which is in the process of training more officers to add to its force.
Councilman Dick Dewar, who said he’s been hearing from more residents who have been victimized through various crimes, cited a memorandum that states that there are 17 officers in different stages of training and seven vacant public safety officer positions.
He inquired where all of the officers in which those in training will replace went.
City Manager Richard Pearce said that some have retired, a few continued their jobs in law enforcement elsewhere and others decided to pursue other careers all together.
Chief Charles Barranco said that some officers have been moved around throughout the department to assure that they’ve had enough on the road to respond to calls while they train the new cops.
“We shifted some people around to make sure those needs are met,” Barranco said.
Currently, six of those 17 are in the final stages of training before they go on patrol solo.
Several are already on the road with seasoned officers in field training, Barranco said.
Pearce added that Aiken Public Safety has some of the best response times in the state and cited the three arrests made in the burglaries from last week in the downtown Aiken area, as well as an arrest made less than 24 hours after a carjacking that happened almost a month ago.
Barranco commended his force for its dedication to the community as well its help in training the new officers.
“It’s a real honor to work with those men and women,” Barranco said.
Pearce said that the Safe Communities initiative, something that Aiken Public Safety has worked diligently on, will do a lot in addressing the crime concerns in the city.
Councilwoman Lessie Price said that it would be beneficial to also concentrate more on the young families and individuals in this community, too.
In other business, Council unanimously approved placing a historic marker commemorating the Aiken Graded School at Kershaw Street and Hampton Avenue.