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Guyton Police Department operating 24/7
Guyton Police Department
Lt. Joseph Coppola (from left), Chief James Breletic and Officer Ben Johnson of are three of the Guyton Police Department’s seven members. The department became a 24/7 operation in October 2021. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Officer Ben Johnson
Officer Ben Johnson of the Guyton Police Department shows how a new camera allows him to get a full view of what’s going on around him. The Guyton City Council recently approved the purchase of four of them. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON — The Guyton Police Department isn’t quite where Chief James Breletic wants it to be but it’s getting closer.

“People don’t realize it but we’ve been running full time since October of last year,” Breletic said. 

Breletic dreamed of running a 24/7 operation for more than a year. He was named chief in March 2020.

Achieving his goal has produced the desired result.

“Our crime still is lower,” he said, “ and I give credit to where that is due — and that’s to my officers (because of) high-visibility patrolling, checking on neighborhoods, our businesses. 

“I’m grateful for that. I really and truly am. They are good folks.”

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office still provides support to the Guyton Police Department but not to the extent before the 24/7 development. Guyton had only three officers they day Breletic was hired, including himself. Now there are seven.

“We do a lot of direct patrols,” Breletic said. “That means an officer goes into a neighborhood and says, ‘I’m in your neighborhood and I’m on patrol.’ People see us there.

“Even in the middle of the night when you don’t see us, we are out there. That’s helping us deter the crime.”

In another effort to enhance visibility, the department is in the process of changing the color of its fleet of vehicles from black to white. Its newest cars are accented with bright red and blue decals.

“We are not ninjas,” Breletic said. “We made the cars brighter so that we can be seen. They are reflective so they can bee seen at night.

“If you are driving down the road, it gives the citizen the benefit of the doubt or if they are looking for the police.”

Thanks to a move by the Guyton City Council, visibility works two ways for the department. It approved the purchase of four in-car cameras that allow officers to maintain a 360-degree view of what’s around them.

Breletic said his department takes every call seriously.

“When we get a case, we investigate it to our fullest,” he said.

The chief said his department works well with Effingham County’s other law enforcement agencies.

“We have been blessed with the Sheriff’s Office, Springfield Police Department and Rincon Police Department — everybody,” Breletic said. “We will also work with out-of-state agencies. It’s changed the dynamics.

“Now people are coming to talk to us and we are sharing more information. It’s all about helping each other out, so we are doing that.”

Breletic said the city’s lone Neighborhood Watch program has been a success. It was launched a year ago.

“That has done great,” chief said. “We are still keeping up with its forefather, John Pelote.”

Pelote asked for the department to curb speeding in his neighborhood. Within a month, he estimated the violations were reduced by “60-70 percent.”

“It’s not about just throwing (speed limit) signs up. It’s about working together,” Breletic said. “... We welcome working with everyone. We really and truly do because we can only do as well as the public can help us.

“My officers all have the same philosophies. They want to get out there. They are community oriented.”