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KCSO holds third town hall meeting

Posted: November 16, 2012 4:49 p.m.
Updated: November 19, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) held its third town hall meeting at Camden Middle School Thursday night. Sheriff Jim Matthews and his command staff were available to answer questions about the state of the KCSO.

Matthews presented a large number of statistics covering topics from the number of people working for the KCSO to the number of crimes that have taken place so far this year. Matthews also discussed the state of the KCSO vehicles: they have seven vehicles with more than 250,000 miles on them and more than 20 that have been driven 150,000 miles or more. This year, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Foundation raised enough money to equip all but three KCSO’s patrol vehicles with cameras. Cameras are critical Matthews said, because not only does it serve as evidence, it also keeps his deputies accountable.

“Cameras help prosecute cases,” Matthews said, after telling the audience that it is hard to prosecute DUI cases when there is no dash cam evidence. 

Matthews also addressed response time, which can be up to 45 minutes, the need for more man-power and the office’s “antiquated” report system, which does not allow deputies to file reports from inside their vehicles.

“A 45-minute wait time is just unacceptable to me; the national average is six minutes,” he said. “We are doing what we can with the minimum, (but) we are falling farther and farther behind.”

Parts of the county closest to Columbia have more “issues” than the easternmost parts of the county, Matthews said.

Since he took office, all deputies have been trained in standard sobriety and DataMaster tests. Matthews has also put an emphasis on physical fitness, acknowledging that deputies can’t take care of Kershaw County citizens if they can’t keep themselves in shape. He debunked rumors that the KCSO is “looking to make money,” by stating that KCSO deputies issue tickets “for aggressive and dangerous driving and seat belt violations” The KCSO has given nearly 6,000 warnings this year, Matthews said.

He has also said previously that many Kershaw County residents told him they learned a lot about “what the KCSO does, our staffing, or equipment situation.” The group of about 18 citizens who attended the town hall meeting said they were unaware that the KCSO did not have dash cams and that the new waste disposal fee may actually help the KCSO with eventually upgrading its patrol cars.

KCSO investigator Danny Templar talked to the group about Neighborhood Watch programs in Kershaw County. Templar said the program can be implemented in any size neighborhood

Although Templar warned the audience that even if a Neighborhood Watch is available, that does not give the citizens authority, using the Treyvon Martin case in Florida as an example.

“You don’t have to be in your neighbor’s business to have an effective community watch program,” he said.

Templar also said a Neighborhood Watch program “does not make anyone immune from being a victim of a crime.”

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