A brutal assault and shooting has left northern Greenville County residents on edge.
“That is scary,” said Taylors resident Julie Snyder. “We’re not used to that up here.”
Tuesday night, dozens of people attended a monthly Community Watch Group meeting that usually has between 20 and 25 people present. They had the chance to address Greenville County interim Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown and his command staff.
Several people say crime has gotten worse lately as the population grows. Some are concerned the sheriff’s office can’t handle it.
“We’re used to some of the petty crime, but that’s getting scary too because it’s just getting closer and closer to our homes,” Snyder said.
Sheriff Brown says his office doesn’t have the manpower it needs.
“We are not the city of Greenville,” he said. “We can’t respond in five minutes or sometimes ten minutes, but we can get there as quick as we have a deputy available.”
He said Greenville County falls below the standard one deputy per 1,000 residents. They would have to hire nearly 90 more people to meet that minimum, according to Brown.
By comparison, Brown said the Greenville Police Department has 2.5 officers for every 1,000 people. The Greenville Police Department also pays their officers more.
Across the board, the county isn’t competitive, Brown said. He said deputies need raises or the high turnover rate will continue.
Another issue when it comes to serving the community is the county’s large size. He said it took deputies 27 minutes to arrive at WE Willis grocery on Tuesday morning where the store owner was brutally attacked and kidnapped by five masked men. The owner’s wife was also shot in the armed robbery.
The issue boils down to funding from the county.
Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill said council is prepared to give more money to the sheriff’s office.
“What we’ve been doing is just throwing them crumbs. I agree,” Dill said. “And it’s because there’s not been a trust level, but there’s a trust level on council now to pay more and to get more.”
The council prepares a budget every two years.
They will finalize the next budget in June.
Sheriff Brown said they are going to conduct a manpower study to determine the resources they have.