Greenville County
i.e. "Pay my taxes", "Parks & Recreation", "Marriage Licenses", etc.
Dept of Public Safety
Department of Public Safety

A Feasibility Study, dated January 15, 1970, entitled Greenville County-City Law Enforcement Center was presented to the Councils of Greenville County and Greenville City with recommendations made on the respective Law Enforcement Services. A Master Plan submitted to County and City officials on December 18, 1970, recommended the construction of a Law Enforcement Center to house the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, the Greenville City Police Department, and a Detention Center. The second recommendation entailed the creation of a Police Service Bureau to consolidate support services and functions, which were being duplicated by the County and City law enforcement agencies.

In 1972, an agreement was reached between County and City Councils for the construction of a Law Enforcement Center. A study to determine which services and functions lent themselves to consolidation continued into the next year. In 1974, an Advisory Committee was formed to make formal recommendations; its recommendations established the Police Service Bureau and a Board to oversee its operation came in February 1975.

When consolidation began, personnel were drawn from both agencies to staff the new department initially consisting of seven divisions; Administration, Communications, Identification, Crime Laboratory, Records, Training, and Crime Analysis. The Detention Center was not part of the Department at this time. Thus, the Police Service Bureau, now known as the Department of Public Safety, was funded as a county department and the operation was overseen by the Police Service Bureau Board. Operations began in the fall of 1975 despite the fact construction of the new Law Enforcement Center was not complete until 1976.

The Department of Public Safety has gone through an evolution of changes through the years with some service support elements being returned to the respective agencies (i.e. agency training and the communications center were again split and is now controlled by the respective law enforcement agencies). The Detention Center was incorporated into the Department during 1986 and the department name at that time changed to the Criminal Justice Support Department (CJSD).

The Department of Public Safety now consists of four operational divisions; the Forensic Division, the Records Management Division, the Detention Division, and the Health Services Division (Detention Center). Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was combined into the Department during 1994, but was moved to exist as a standalone Department in 2005. Three of the remaining divisions (Forensics, Records Management, & Detention) act as service support elements to law enforcement and each has an operational budget supported solely through the County General Fund. The sole exception being the Health Services Division funded as "Medical Charities". Health Services who acts at the Detention Center is supported from funds collected by a special tax levy in support of the Medical Indigent Assistance Act.

The late 1990's were a challenging period of time for the Department as other existing services within the County came under control of the Department as a result of budget related emergency matters. The Greenville Transit Authority (GTA) came under management control of the Department at the start of 1996; though there was a short period of time during 1996 when the system was shut down, it restarted soon thereafter in a scaled down measure. The system was reassigned back to the Greenville Transit Authority Board by the close of 1996.

In 1998, again the result of a budget related emergency; the County owned Grady Hipp Nursing Center and Greenville Retirement Center Board was disbanded and operation of these two facilities came under the control of the Department (known then as Department of Community Services). Operational control of the entities remained throughout 1998 until ownership of the facilities was sold to private companies.

Despite numerous changes of the years, the Department of Public Safety takes pride in being the only Department of its kind in the state of South Carolina. The ever-increasing demand for support services, as well as the legal mandates which narrowly define operational parameters; are viewed as constructive changes which can be optimized through TEAMWORK of County employees and its citizens and customers.