GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate barbershop is trying to change the way people view law enforcement.
Turning Headz Barbershop located at 330 White Horse Rd says they understand the power a barbershop has in impacting the community. That’s why barbers there say they teamed up with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office to start a conversation on ways to improve community and deputy relations.
Sheriff Will Lewis created the “Office of the Sheriff” as a sub-division focused solely on community relations and answering any questions people may have.
Turning Headz took advantage of the opportunity. They say the building where their barbershop now stands has a violent past.
“We had two murders outside that door right there,” said Fah Blazin, the owner of Turning Headz.
She says deputies were at the building all the time. It was supposed to be condemned, but Senator Karl Allen fought for it to stay open. That’s when the barbershop came in and cleaned up the image.
But the negative connotation people have with law enforcement in that area has stuck around.
“I hated police,” said barber, Chris Kutz. “I’m not going to lie.”
Kutz says he used to be into a life of troublemaking but then turned his life around. He started working security and gained a newfound respect and appreciation for law enforcement.
“The way I looked at police then, I look at them totally different now,” Kutz said.
He says if he can change his outlook, he might be able to mentor others to do the same.
“We’re turning heads as far as cutting, but we’re trying to have you walk out this door with a different type of mindset,” Kutz said.
He says that’s why he reached out to the Sheriff’s Office.
“You walk in a black barbershop, and you have four or five cops walk in, the whole mood changes,” Kutz said.
A lieutenant at the Sheriff’s Office gets his hair cut at Turning Headz and remembers when it used to be riddled with crime.
“That image is changing and as a sheriff’s office, we’re going to do everything to help them change, and we’re asking them to help us improve us while we’re doing that,” said Lt. Darius Hall.
He says it starts with conversations.
“If you’re not having talks, then everything’s stagnant, and there’s going to be misunderstandings,” Lt. Hall said.
Deputies are being proactive and going into the community. They visited a few other businesses earlier this week as well.
“That’s the first step,” said Martine Wilder, who handles community relations for the Sheriff’s Office. “They were elated. They were like you’re coming here, and nothing’s wrong, and I’m like yeah, nothing’s wrong.”
On their visit, they say they talked about topics like traffic stops, deputy-involved shootings, and even Live PD concerns.
Barbers say they want to see law enforcement have these conversations more often. Law enforcement says they just want people to be open to having them.
“By us taking this leap of having just a simple conversation, it only takes a spark to start a flame,” Kutz said.
The Sheriff’s Office encourages anyone to invite them out to their community. People can call 864-271-5210 and ask for Lt. Hall.