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Matthews won’t seek third term as sheriff

Posted: August 24, 2017 4:55 p.m.
Updated: August 25, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews announces he will not run for a third term in 2018 in a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon. Matthews, 66, said an as yet unnamed, younger officer within his department has indicated he would like to serve as sheriff. Instead of running again, Matthews said he would “fully support” that officer’s campaign.

“Hello, I’m Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews.”

Matthews used those words to open a more than 3 and 1/2-minute long video posted to Facebook on Wednesday afternoon to announce that he will not seek a third term as Kershaw County’s sheriff.

Most of the message recounted various accomplishments the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) has made since taking office in January 2011.

“The past seven years that I have been your sheriff have gone by very quickly,” Matthews said. “During this time, we as an agency have accomplished quite a bit. It goes without saying that much of what we have accomplished has been the result of enormous support from our citizens.”

Matthews noted that all deputies have been outfitted with bullet proof vests and body cameras, patrol cars have video cameras and a computerized report writing system, and training has increased with the department winning numerous awards.

“For instance, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office was named Law Enforcement Agency of the Year for departments our size for six years in a row for alcohol and DUI enforcement -- six years of working hard to keep drunk drivers off our roadways. This is a prestigious award given by the S.C. Department of Public Safety, and I’m so proud of our team for winning in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and we hope to win in 2017,” Matthews said.

In addition, he said, the KCSO’s traffic unit was recognized nationally this year as the Traffic Unite Team of the Year for DUI enforcement by the National Criminal Enforcement Association, which also named a KCSO deputy as Traffic Unit Officer of the Year.

Matthews said that while traffic and DUI enforcement are important, there have been other successes.

“Our investigators have arrested numerous individuals, many of them gang members from outside of Kershaw County, for breaking into homes and vehicles in our communities,” he said. “They have solved several murders, to include the arrest of the man who sexually assaulted and murdered a young lady in our community.”

Matthews was referring to the arrest of Stephen Ross Kelly in March 2014 for the murder of 18-year-old Briana Rabon, of Lugoff. Kelly was 21 at the time. A year and a half later, in September 2015, Kelly pleaded guilty as he was about to stand trial and was sentenced to 50 years in prison, which he is serving day-to-day without the possibility of parole. He could have faced life in prison.

Matthews went on to talk about KCSO narcotics officers have made arrested hundreds of drug dealers and dismantled numerous meth labs.

“We now work hand-in-hand with state and federal agencies when federal prosecution will result in lengthy federal prison sentences for major drug dealers or violent felons in possession of firearms,” Matthews said.

He said 2018 and the future of the KCSO “is bright” and admitted he was going to run for a third term next year.

“I was planning on running … until a young leader within our department recently expressed his interest in serving as your sheriff,” Matthews said, without naming the potential candidate. “We need to plan for the long term. I am 66 and this younger leader is, without a doubt, the future of our department. He has the respect of the men and women of the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. He has the integrity and experience we need as your sheriff.”

Matthews went on to say he was confident the potential candidate will continue to move the KCSO forward.

“So, today, I am announcing my intention to not seek re-election and intend to fully support my officer, who will make his campaign announcement in the near future,” he said. “One thing to remember: Without the integrity and a steadfast commitment to treating everyone the same, we will go back to the ‘good ole boy way’ of doing things. No one who cares about our future in Kershaw County wants that.”

In closing, Matthews thanked the public for the “great honor” of serving as sheriff and that it has been a blessing to service the people of Kershaw County.

“We have accomplished a great deal together and I pray God continues to bless and use us for His glory for many years to come.”

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