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Dealing a blow to drug dealers in Kershaw County

Posted: April 7, 2011 5:16 p.m.
Updated: April 8, 2011 5:00 a.m.

One evening last year when I pulled into my driveway, there was an unfamiliar car parked in front of my house and there was a man wearing a uniform, standing by the car. As I got closer, I recognized the uniform as a Richland County Sheriff’s Department uniform. This officer identified himself to me and said that if I was elected sheriff, he and his partner would like to come work for me. He handed me an envelope containing their resumes.

Obviously not in the habit of making a decision based on a five-minute conversation, I read their resumes and did some checking up on these two men. Their backgrounds were impressive and their reputations among their peers and prosecutors were outstanding. This was almost too good to be true. They came from an agency where the pay was better and they received real overtime for their extra hours, not the “Chinese” or half-time overtime Kershaw County deputies are paid. Yet, they still wanted to come work here.

On the very first day I was in office they arrested a lady who, for years, had been passing bad prescriptions at pharmacies. As these officers were leading her off to jail, she asked why she was being arrested … because she had been doing this for years and no one had bothered her in the past. Their response was that there is a new sheriff in town.

Prior to my election, I declared and still stand by the statement that drugs are the common denominator behind the vast majority of the crimes our county faces. This has been proven in the last three months by the number of drug arrests we have made at locations where we uncovered massive amounts of stolen property. Two recent drive-by shootings were the direct result of drug deals. Two recent infant death cases revealed drug and alcohol abuse in the homes. Many of our calls for service involving criminal domestic violence involve substance abuse. Substance abuse is destroying our society, our families, our children and our way of life.

I started off with two narcotics investigators (“narcs”) and now have three. I need five, but there is no money for that. In the first two months of operation, my two narcs made 65 arrests for marijuana, crack cocaine, cocaine, methamphetamine and in the process seized numerous weapons, arrested 14 fugitives, discovered a marijuana grow and a mobile meth lab. During the month of March they made 45 arrests for marijuana and crack cocaine, also seizing drug proceeds and guns. That’s a total of 110 arrests by our three-man drug squad in only three months. These are impressive statistics and testify to the hard work of these three men.

More impressive is the new level of cooperation with the federal drug task force. Several major crack dealers who have operated for years in Kershaw County have been arrested by our narcs and now face federal drug charges. When you are convicted of a federal drug offense there is no probation or parole. These drug dealers won’t be selling crack in our county for many, many years. Other federal drug cases are underway.

The new level of cooperation also exists between the Sheriff’s Office and the Solicitor’s Office. We are working together to keep repeat drug offenders in jail. Citizens throughout the county have complained to me about people getting arrested and then let right out on bond to sell drugs the very next day.

Now we are working with the Solicitor’s Office to ask the judge to revoke the initial bond of a drug offender if he or she is arrested again while out on bond. This means drug dealers are staying in jail until trial. It also means they won’t be selling drugs to the crack heads who are breaking into our homes on a regular basis.

I want to thank both the federal drug task force and the 5th Circuit Solicitor’ Office for their efforts to enhance cooperation in Kershaw County. While I’m sheriff, the KSCO will continue to aggressively pursue drug dealers at whatever level (local, state or federal) that gives us the best chance of removing them from our communities. We will continue to cooperate with other agencies and go about this the right way. Kershaw County will eventually enjoy the positive results of this kind of drug enforcement.

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