I Spy Someone making a difference.
Sergeant Fleming finds a wayby Derrick Bracey
The graveyard shift can be a long 12 hours for a public safety officer at Coastal Carolina University. Between the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., CCU Public Safety officers patrol the campuses of CCU and Horry Georgetown Technical College. These officers move through the night, keeping CCU safe, patrolling from Singleton Ridge to the intersection of U.S. 501 and S.C. 544.
Because these officers are not often seen by the day dwellers, it can be a thankless job. But these knights of the night should be recognized. Recently, one of them went well beyond the call of duty. He didn’t do it for praise or to get an arrest. He did it for the sake of kindness.
On Thursday, Sept. 26, at approximately 4 a.m., Sergeant Lonnie Fleming responded to a call box activation behind the 1000 Building at HGTC. “Usually, that means a low battery,” says Fleming. “But when I rode over, there were two people standing by the call box, a man and a woman in their twenties. The man had a prosthetic leg, and the woman was wearing a T-shirt, pajama pants and hospital socks without any shoes. It had been raining all night, and they were soaked.”
Fleming’s patrols on a Thursday night usually consist of an occasional noise complaint, maybe a case of underage drinking or a random report of larceny. But this was a first for Fleming.
“The young woman had a seizure earlier that day, and she was taken to the Conway Medical Center. Her boyfriend had accompanied her in the ambulance,” says Fleming. “When she was released, they didn’t have a ride back to their home in Aynor, so they set out walking. It didn’t take them long to realize they weren’t in walking shape.”
The officers of CCU’s Public Safety have given plenty of rides to people in distress, but Aynor was too far and Fleming would’ve had to leave his post for too long. “The young man told me they were trying to get to the Traveler’s Chapel in Conway to sleep, and the young woman kept saying, ‘I just want to go home,’ over and over,” says Fleming. “So I called them a cab.”
Matthew Crawford, Fleming’s commanding officer, said Fleming paid the $35 cab fare out of his own pocket. “It’s a testament to Lonnie’s character: compassionate and always willing to help out fellow citizens who are down on their luck.”
Fleming is married and was born and raised in Conway. He began his career with CCU in 2007 as a security officer. An avid hunter and fisherman, he loves any activity that gets him outdoors. And he loves his job.
“Our motto here on the late shift is ‘carpe noctem,’ seize the night,” says Crawford. “As a team, we need to hold one another up in the light when we do an outstanding deed like this. It sets an example for other officers and people to follow.”
“It was just the right thing to do,” says Fleming. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”