Last year the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office responded to approximately 43,000 calls for service. We did this with at most, 6 deputies per shift. Today as I am writing this we have 4 deputies covering the entire county. Most people in Kershaw County don’t know that the Lancaster Co. Sheriff’s Department also answered about 43,000 calls for service last year. (Lancaster County is significantly smaller in area than Kershaw County. They have about 10,000 more residents.)The difference is they handled this with 12 deputies per shift. As a result Lancaster’s response times are significantly shorter and ours remain unacceptably long. Lancaster can prevent crimes while we are relegated to simply responding to them after they occur.
This year we are on track to answer over 43,000 calls for service and we need some relief. Kershaw County deputies are unable to do much in the way of crime prevention because we are so understaffed. We basically only answer calls for service. With so few deputies working per shift, there is little opportunity to be proactive and patrol neighborhoods and the outlying areas of the county.
This problem did not occur overnight. As the population of Kershaw County increased over the last ten years, the resources provided to the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office did not increase proportionally. The powers that be and the public have allowed this problem to increase over time and now we are faced with an expensive fix. I liken this situation to a car owner who doesn’t spend money each year on preventive maintenance. That car owner will one day be facing a repair bill that he cannot pay.
I fully recognize that Kershaw County, in our current economy, cannot afford to completely correct this problem in the coming year. However, the county had better begin the process in stages or the public will suffer. With that in mind during the past two years I have requested funding to allow me to place one additional deputy on each shift. I was turned down both years. On a positive note, the four man traffic unit was approved, and this unit will not cost the taxpayers a single dime. We are now able at times to supplement our patrol side with these traffic officers. There has also been a long overdue effort to replace our aging and broken down vehicle fleet. For that I am grateful.
We are thinking outside of the box on ways to fund equipment needs. We have purchased several vehicles with proceeds seized from drug dealers. We have had fundraisers to provide dashcams for our vehicles and bullet proof vests for our deputies. We seek and receive grant funding on a regular basis.
In my opinion, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office is doing a phenomenal job in protecting this county with the resources we are given. We have a dedicated and motivated workforce. However, like many who have complained, I too am not pleased with our response times. I fear for the safety of our deputies when one has to answer a potentially dangerous call without having backup nearby to help. We must be able to patrol neighborhoods and outlying areas and right now we simply cannot to the degree I would like and the public expects.
I will not ask for everything I need to bring us to where we should be, but I will seek to address this problem in stages. Once again I will be asking Kershaw County Council to approve the hiring of four uniformed officers so that I can place one officer on each shift. I also have a serious need to hire one additional investigator and one more narcotics officer. Without some public support for this, I am not optimistic that I will be given these officers. We cannot continue to fall further behind each year.
It seems that most people want better law enforcement, but when it comes to raising the revenue to do so, few are willing to accept a tax increase to pay for it. With all of this being said, I am asking that the residents of Kershaw County contact their county councilman and let him know you support adequate funding for the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office. We need to begin the step by step process of fixing this public safety problem. If public support is not behind us on this, the citizens of Kershaw County will only have themselves to blame when they call for help and we are unable to get to them in a timely manner. Our county councilmen represent the people in their district. They need to hear from you if you support my position. I hope you will take the time to contact your county representative and tell them how you feel about adequately funding law enforcement in Kershaw County.