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County crime stats down for 2013

Posted: January 14, 2014 2:55 p.m.
Updated: January 15, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Gary Phillips/C-I

The Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) has released its crime statistics for 2013 and the good news is most types of incidents were fewer than in 2012. Sheriff Jim Matthews said his deputies’ productive year was the result of getting criminals off -- and keeping them off -- the street.

“Our crime numbers were down all across the county in the past year and that is largely due to the number of arrests we made,” Matthews said. “If the criminals are locked up, they’re not adding to the crime numbers.”

KCSO figures show there were 441 cases of criminal domestic violence, down from 523 in 2012; larceny reports were down from 1,248 to 1,095; and assaults dropped from 791 to 596.

Matthews said there was only one homicide in Kershaw County in 2013 and one armed robbery. Two statistics that increased in 2013 were the number of arrest warrants served, nearly doubling from 731 to 1,438; and driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, which rose from 112 in 2012 to 138 in 2013.

“The number of warrants shows we were successful in getting lawbreakers off the streets,” Matthews said. “There’s a direct link between that and how the number of reported crimes went down.”

The sheriff said the KCSO Traffic Enforcement Unit also had a good year. Along with the 138 DUI arrests, the unit reported 345 alcohol violations such as open container or underage possession; 465 arrests for driving under suspension; 1,239 seatbelt violations; 34 child restraint violations; 2,754 speeding violations of 15 mph or more above the speed limit; 373 drug cases; 70 fugitives apprehended; and 19 cases of weapons violation. The unit also issued 5,251 warnings.

“The goal of the traffic unit is to make the roads of Kershaw County safer. People think we only patrol I-20 because that’s where we can catch the most speeders, but that’s not so. Most of our stops are done on county roads,” Matthews said. “We issue a lot of warnings because we feel that makes drivers more aware of what they’re doing and reminds them to be better drivers. We want to educate people, not always punish them.”

Matthews said stops made by the traffic unit often lead to more serious charges.

“It’s true that many DUI and drug cases start as traffic stops,” he said. “Those are cases that would never be made if it were not for the traffic unit.”

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