GOP Candidates for Greenville County Sheriff talk deputy shortage, response times

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SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Thursday, the five Republican candidates for Greenville County Sheriff squared off on a debate stage.

One big issue for people in the southern part of the county, where this debate took place, is a shortage of deputies on patrol. All of the candidates agreed that the county needs to improve response times, but they had different ideas on how to fix that.

All five Republican candidates for Greenville County Sheriff are current or former employees of the Sheriffs Office, and all of them want to make changes to better serve the growing community.

Darius Hall is a captain with the Sheriffs Office who’s been there for nearly three decades. He said new technology is needed to improve response times.

“There’s technology that can be based in our cars where our dispatchers can actually see where the cars are at, instead of sending somebody 12 miles away from a call…pick the person three miles away from the call,” Hall said.

Former deputy director of the Secret Service A.T. “Tommy” Smith agreed response times in the county are unacceptable and said he would release his budget requests to the public so citizens could add pressure to get resources for the department.

“I’m not in favor of a tax increase, but I will say that when the salaries were increased the money was found,” Smith said.

Hobart Lewis, a former deputy, said he plans to add six to eight deputies to every patrol shift.

“We need to hire and retain deputies by creating a better environment,” Lewis said.

Robert Whatley, who’s been with the Sheriff’s Office for decades, said there’s only one deputy assigned to the 100 square mile area in southern Greenville County. He said he would make a long term plan with county council to fix that and look at restructuring positions in the short term.

“To find positions that are not being used as efficiently as they could be,” Whatley said.

Sean Zukowsky, who returned to Greenville County from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, said he would focus on educating the public on law enforcement needs and recruitment

“And that again goes back to making this agency the best agency that people want to come work for,” Zukowsky said.

The primary for the special election for sheriff is January 7 and the general election is March 10.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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