Sumter, SC (WLTX) - Shoppers all over the Midlands were up before the sun Friday morning for Black Friday and that meant law enforcement was right there as well, keeping them safe.
"The main purpose of this whole objective is to be visible," Sumter Police Department's Captain Jeffery Jackson told officers Friday morning, "We're not here to arrest anyone if we don't have to. But if the case comes where we have to make an arrest - if they make us arrest them, then we'll do our jobs."
But for the most part, their jobs are to be a visual reminder that the Sumter Police are there should any shoppers, or those who would target them, get any wise ideas.
For Jackson and the 19 other officers, plus ten more on regular duty, preparation begins around Halloween. "Putting all the names together and looking at the sales and projected sales," he explains, "We kind of work it out to where it's not going to cost the city a lot of money, utilize those individuals that are in the different sections that can flex out their hours."
This the second year in a row they've provided the extra security. "It was very successful last year and the merchants kind of liked it, liked the concept. So it's going to be a yearly tradition," Jackson says.
But, while some areas of the country are dealing with shootings and pepper spray, most of his work is done with a handshake or a simple wave. He says, "I enjoy this time of year. Not only does it bring family and friends together, most people are in a joyous spirit."
The bulk of the force stayed on the job until about 11 a.m., once all the big sales were done. But with stores opening earlier and earlier, Jackson says their schedule may be something they have to revisit every year.