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Bethune dissolves police department

Posted: April 14, 2013 3:35 p.m.
Updated: April 15, 2013 5:00 a.m.

 

Bethune Town Council voted to dissolve the Bethune Police Department (BPD) at its March meeting after determining the town does not have enough money to hire a new police chief.

Mayor Carlisle Davis said there are a number of police departments across the state who have one-man police departments that are being forced to completely shut their departments down. Funding is the issue, he said, so now Bethune must rely on services from the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO).

“It’s not cost effective (to maintain the BPD) with the cuts from the state,” Davis said. “We’ve tried to subsidize it for years, but with less money coming in from the state, we just can’t afford it. I hate that we have to do it, but we have to do it.”

Bethune’s population as of the 2010 Census was 334. Davis said most of the population is elderly and that the town is slowly shrinking. He said residents now understand that they are “at the mercy” of the KCSO, as the agency’s resources are restricted as well.

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthew said Kershaw County Council would need to consider funding a deputy to provide assistance to the Bethune area full time. Otherwise, deputies will respond as needed, he said, because the KCSO is “already stretched thin.” However, Bethune doesn’t usually have a high volume of calls like areas closer to the Richland County line, Matthews said.

There are two solutions, according to Matthews: increase taxes or increase traffic citations. Matthews said the KCSO is known for giving traffic warnings, but actual citations would bring in the funds to pay for extra staff.

“Something has to give. We are steadily going in reverse; every year we get behind and our response time gets slower. People are more concerned about trying to protect their pocketbook more than their family. People need to step up,” Matthews said.

 

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