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This is not Mayberry

Posted: March 20, 2014 8:09 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2014 5:00 a.m.


Anyone who knows me knows I am a big fan of The Andy Griffith Show. They especially know it if my cell phone happens to ring, as my ringtone is the song “The Fishing Hole,” more commonly known as The Andy Griffith Show theme song. When it goes off, how can you not picture Andy and Opie coming down the dirt road with their fishing poles?

When my phone rings, it almost always draws laughs, even the time it rang right in the middle of church, stopping the preacher mid-sermon, or the time a couple of months ago when it rang as our legislative delegation met the public at The ALPHA Center. State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk was cut off in mid-sentence, but everyone had a good laugh about it. I was a tad embarrassed, but certainly not ashamed.

The Andy Griffith Show endures because it takes us back to a simpler place and time, when problems were few and they could be solved with ease, usually by the wise local sheriff. The show taught valuable lessons about the importance of a sense of community, of friendship and genuine concern for each other. I record every episode of The Andy Griffith Show that plays on the TVLand channel on my DVR. I hate to admit this part of it, but I have seen them all so many times now that I often delete episodes without watching them again. TVLand shows several episodes every day and it doesn’t take long to run through the entire series and start over again.

The Andy Griffith Show is great entertainment, but sadly, that’s about all it really is. Mayberry is a fictional place and the characters living there are also made up. There’s a lot of speculation that Mayberry was based on Andy Griffith’s real hometown, Mt. Airy, N.C., although he always denied it. Most things were a lot simpler in that day and time, but even then, Mayberry and The Andy Griffith Show were fiction.

I was talking to a high-ranking officer at the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) a few weeks ago and he said a lot of people here think this is Mayberry and the KCSO’s job is easy. He said, “If our biggest problem was Ernest T. Bass throwing rocks through windows, we would have it made.” Well said.

Part of my job here is compiling the reports from the KCSO and the Camden Police Department (CPD) that are printed in the Chronicle-Independent each Wednesday. I also report on bigger incidents, like the recent killing of 18-year-old Briana Rabon. This is not Mayberry. Sheriff Taylor and Dep. Barney Fife’s biggest concerns were moonshiners, a cattle thief who tricked detectives by putting shows on the cows he stole, Ernest T. Bass throwing rocks and the occasional escaped convicts who miraculously always headed straight to Mayberry. Andy and Barney often had very little to do, which was great for their small town. But in Kershaw County, the KCSO has too much to do with the manpower and resources they have.

A good example is a stabbing incident that happened in Lugoff last week. Sheriff Jim Matthews told me it took three deputies to get that situation under control and sorted out. With very few deputies patrolling the county, taking three to handle one incident leaves the rest of the county unprotected. But, it had to be done. There were multiple suspects and witnesses to deal with and one deputy could not have done it alone.

Matthews has asked the county council to budget the funds to hire more patrol deputies and one additional narcotics officer to bolster the manpower of the KCSO. It appears to me that Matthews has been responsible with the funds he has been given each year, but he wants to be sure Kershaw County residents feel safe and confident in the KCSO. As the population grows, along with criminal activity, he will need more personnel and resources to reach and retain that goal. To that end, let’s give him our support. If I ever need the KCSO, I want a deputy to be close by. Don’t you?

On a somewhat related note, I’m scheduled to meet and interview another famous TV lawman this weekend. James Best is bringing his one-man show to the Kershaw County Fine Arts Center on Saturday evening. He is best known as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazard, but to me he will always be Jim Lindsey, the guitar player from Mayberry.



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