Aiken Department of Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco and other law enforcement executives from around the state met with U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday, discussing a range of issues and policies, some of which tie directly back to this city.
The conversation at the Columbia summit, hosted by U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon, was "absolutely" positive, Barranco said Tuesday afternoon.
Barr, the 85th attorney general, was strongly supportive, according to the chief. The conversation at times addressed the role police play and the contemporary law enforcement atmosphere.
The Aiken Safe Communities initiative and Operation Gunsmoke – two Aiken-specific topics – were also brought up, Barranco said.
The Safe Communities program began in 2013 following a spike in violent crime in the city. The initiative aims to engage and educate repeat offenders and slash recidivism rates. It's related to the national Project Safe Neighborhoods, Barranco noted.
Operation Gunsmoke was a major CSRA crime sweep that by mid-March had resulted in the charging of 17 people in South Carolina and nine in neighboring Georgia. The years-long investigation was initiated by an anti-gang task force with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and involved Aiken and North Augusta public safety departments, among others.
Barranco on Tuesday said Lydon's office was "invaluable" in that crackdown.
In a post on Facebook, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson described the law enforcement get-together as "very informative and thoughtful."
"I thought it was a pretty big deal," Barranco said, hinting at Barr's title.
The opioid epidemic, violent crime and the importance of inter-agency cooperation were also discussed, according to a related U.S. Department of Justice announcement.
"We can't do this job by ourselves," Barranco said, adding, "We have great relationships here."
Barr on Monday also toured FCI Edgefield, a medium-security prison in Edgefield County.