City officials dedicate new Public Safety J. Carrol Busbee Headquarters
Public safety was the late J. Carrol Busbee’s love, and the city of Aiken showed its love for him Sunday afternoon during the ribbon cutting for the new Aiken Department of Public Safety J. Carrol Busbee Headquarters named in his honor.
Public Safety officers and city officials dedicated the facility on Beaufort Street N.E., cutting a yellow “Police Line Do Not Cross” tape. A standing-room audience of several hundred community residents attended the ceremony, which included a tour of the building.
“This is a wonderful day for him and the citizens of this community,” Rosemary Busbee said of her late husband after the event. “He was such a good person. Everyone who knew him loved him. I feel like he is looking down on us today and is here with us in spirit. He was so proud of this building and the accomplishments the city has made.”
Carrol Busbee, who died in early January, was the Aiken Fire Chief from February 1964 to July 1970, when he was named the first director of the Aiken Department of Public Safety. He led the department until his retirement in February 1999.
Before the ribbon cutting, Rosemary Busbee rang the new building into service with help from Cadet Thomas Vine and Charlie Cupp, 88, the oldest living Aiken Public Safety officer, who served from May 1954 to December 1992. Cupp was the assistant fire chief under Busbee.
The white bell used to ring the building into service is just to the right of the new headquarters’ main entrance and is more than 100 years old, Aiken Public Safety Lt. Jake Mahoney said.
“It was first bought by the city of Aiken in 1899 and used to summon the fire brigade to announce fires. It carried on its tradition of service to the city and was moved downtown to alert people if there were fires in Hitchcock Woods,” Mahoney said. “During the Second World War, it was used by civil defense to alert people of possible gas attacks.”
In 1975, the bell was moved to the Edgefield Avenue side of the former Aiken Public Safety headquarters on Laurens Street.
“It was in a place of honor there and is a very important part of our history and tradition,” Mahoney said. “Now, it will continue to serve here as a reminder of our past and those that led us to where we are to day to serve and protect our community.”
Mahoney said Chief Busbee gave him the opportunity to serve the Aiken community almost 25 years ago.
“The fact that I’m here today and have the opportunity to honor him and to be a part of this service is tremendously important to me, especially when I see my children sharing in this celebration,” Mahoney said after the ceremony. “None of this would have happened if Chief Busbee had not taken a chance on me, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.”
During the ceremony, members of the Aiken County Legislative Delegation presented Rosemary Busbee with resolutions recognizing her late husband from the S.C. House of Representatives and the S.C. Senate.
Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon said the new headquarters is a pledge from the city to support Aiken Public Safety and the work its officers and employees do every day.
“This house today is dedicated to the men and women who patrol our streets, keep our families safe and run into burning buildings to save people that they have never met,” he said. “May this headquarters demonstrate the value we place on our Aiken Public Safety and may those who see it know that it is a covenant between our city and our officers and our firefighters and our dispatchers and all those who will occupy this building.”
“May the Aiken Public Safety J. Carrol Busbee Headquarters be a constant reminder of the support we pledge, the respect we give and and our prayers for our officers,” he continued. “May God bless this building and Aiken Department of Public Safety and may he continue to bless our wonderful, wonderful city.”
Aiken City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said “A new building understandably engenders civic pride and boosts employee morale.”
“I see that with this building,” he said. “While we can stop for a moment and celebrate what we have accomplished, ultimately, we know that this building will help us in our mission to ensure that Aiken’s greatest days are ahead.”
Community members are 110 percent behind the “hard and challenging work that you do,” said Eugene White, the president of the NAACP Aiken Branch.
“The men and women of the city of Aiken Department of Public Safety are nothing short of heroes,” he said to applause from the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, you are heroes, and you deserve nothing but the very best.”
“I personally am proud to see the phoenix rise from the ashes of an empty building to create a state-of-the-art and top-of-the-class and first-in-line law enforcement facility because you deserve it. We stand with you, and we support each and everything that you do. In short, we are friends, and we are family.”
Construction work to convert the former Food Lion building on Beaufort Street into the new Aiken Department of Public Safety J. Carrol Busbee Headquarters began in mid-April 2018. The approximately $10.8 million project was funded in part by the capital projects sales tax.
Aiken Public Safety Director Charles Barranco said a year ago he stood in a “vast open space” with “four walls and trusses.”
“Wow, this is awesome,” Barranco said. “I could never imagine it would turn out to be this beautiful, and we are so proud to call it our headquarters.”
During his remarks, Barranco recognized the Aiken Public Safety officers who lost theirs lives while on duty, including Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson on Dec. 21, 2011, and Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers, on Jan. 28, 2012.
“It was important to council, myself and our staff in how we honored those who came before us, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Barranco said. “Today, we honor those who gave that ultimate sacrifice so that our city and this department could be here today, and they are.”
Memorials to each officer who died in the line of duty are in the headquarters’ lobby and the day room.
“We are thankful for their service,” Barranco said.