LANCASTER, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – It’s Lancaster’s National Night Out and the first for the city’s new Police Chief, Don Roper, who got the job last year.

His goal? Improve the image of his department after unpleasant interactions in the past.

“We here in Lancaster, we recognize there’s work to be done,” Roper said. “This is just another step towards us trying to make those connections.”

Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile shares Roper’s feelings. But they’re not only forming relationships but looking for a few good men and women to join the force.

Roper needs 15 more officers, and Faile is looking for ten new deputies.

“When you look at the national average of where we’re supposed to be on a jurisdiction like ours or the south Atlantic region average, where we should be, you know, we’re short several officers, but it’s important,” Faile said. “You know, the people expect a certain level of service responsibility and make sure they get that and our presence in the community.”

Law enforcement shortfalls are a national problem. The Police Executive Research Forum looked at workforce trends — finding an 18% jump in resignations from the start of 2019 to the end of 2021.

Health analysts say people in policing face high job stress, including burnout, chronic fatigue, absenteeism, and high turnover.

“They’re very active. They stay on top of things and making sure, especially for us, the crime rate is down. As far as the community, it’s a great community to live in; it’s on the uprise,” said neighbor Chris Lyles.