Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan will make a presentation to Kershaw County Council during its meeting today on his request to have the county return control of the jail to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. In mid-June, Boan sent a letter to Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter making the request and indicating he would provide more details about his proposal at today’s council meeting.
In that letter, Boan said, “It is my firm belief that the long-standing general law in South Carolina -- that the sheriff shall have custody of the jail in his county -- is the best option for the citizens and for the efficient and effective operation of law enforcement functions within the county. Currently, (more than) three-quarters of South Carolina sheriffs have custody of their own jails.”
The S.C. Sheriffs Association confirmed that is the case.
The S.C. Code of Laws provides for sheriffs to control county jails. It also allows sheriffs to “devolve” those powers to the county and for the county to “devolve” them back to the sheriff. The late Sheriff Hector DeBruhl gave up control of the jail to the county sometime in or before 1987, according to past Chronicle-Independent coverage of this issue, something Carpenter later confirmed.
Boan said in his letter to Carpenter that now was the right time for his office to take over jail operations since Jail Administrator Peggy Spivey retired on June 30. Capt. Tyrell Cato is currently acting as interim director.
Boan also said there were “readily identifiable areas” that could result in “significant cost savings” and provide “more effective law enforcement services” for the county. He identified training, transportation and courtroom functions as areas where consolidation would “eliminate duplication of effort … and provide for more uniformed and better coordinated interaction between involved personnel.”
Ten years ago, former Sheriff Steve McCaskill sought to regain control of the jail, but council rebuffed his efforts after a S.C. Attorney General’s opinion that DeBruhl’s devolvement of jail powers to the county was “binding,” comparing it to a property transfer whereby the county owns the jail.
At least one member of council has already expressed his desire to accommodate Boan’s request. Councilman Jimmy Jones asked that, in addition to Boan’s presentation, that his request be formally added to today’s agenda for consideration under new business.
Boan’s presentation is scheduled as the second one for the evening. The first will be made by Kathryn Johnson of LiveWell Kershaw.
Council will take up first reading of one ordinance today: one that would rezone 5.1 acres of Heritage Mobile Home Park on the north side of Ridgeway Road from R-15 (low density residential) to R-6 (high density residential). According to a staff report, the rezoning is being requested “in order to enable a potential new owner to replace previously removed units within the mobile home park, and to expand the park.” The County Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on May 13, during which four neighboring property owners objected to the rezoning. The commission unanimously voted to recommend that council deny the request.
In addition to consideration of Boan’s jail request, other items under new business include:
• placing the All-America City logo on county water towers;
• extending water lines to the Doby’s Mill Fire Department and further up S.C. 5;
• a discussion of retirement benefits;
• grievance committee appointments; and
• cancellation of council’s July 23 and Aug. 27 meetings.
Today’s meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Kershaw County Government Center, 515 Walnut St. in Camden, and is open to the public.