BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Deputies with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) are working to connect with the community they serve and they did that Wednesday night by hosting a community outreach forum.

The forum was held at Cane Bay High School where Sheriff Duane Lewis talked with community members about building a stronger relationship with the department.

BCSO is making connections and building relationships with members of the Cane Bay and Nexton communities.

“It’s an opportunity for the folks to meet the sheriff and also meet my staff,” Lewis said. “We provided them with a lot of statistics about what’s going on in their community.”

Lewis says it’s crucial for his department to interact with community members because the amount of people moving into the area continues to rise rapidly.

“We have to get out and meet them and give them an opportunity to learn who we are and what we do for them,” he said, “and try to figure out what their issues and problems are.”

Lewis told the group gathered in the auditorium that one of the biggest problems specific to the Cane Bay area is a large number of car break-ins.

“The number one thing about these car break-ins is they have to lock the door and take their valuables out,” Lewis said. “That’s the number one message tonight.”

Dominique Cooper who lives in the area says she’s witnessed the issue as well.

“We do,” Cooper said, “unfortunately, have a lot of people that in the era that I grew up in, you leave your door unlocked because you didn’t have to worry about. Some people still have that mindset, and they think, ‘Oh, it won’t happen to me,’ but unfortunately it’s a great opportunity for not-so-great people and they just take advantage of it.”

Cooper says it was imperative for her to be at Wednesday’s forum, both for the information and to build a rapport with the men and women sworn to protect her community.

“They work unselfishly,” she said. “They work for very little pay and they’re putting their lives on the line for us, so we need to build strong bonds with them.”

Lewis says there will be another community outreach forum in the north-end of Berkeley County next month.