GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Some big changes could soon be on the way to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Hobart Lewis wants to put the Forensics Division, the Records Management Division, and Property and Evidence Section under his umbrella. He said it comes down to efficiency.
Forensics, Records, and Property and Evidence are currently under the control of Greenville County’s Public Safety Department, comprised of County Council members and not the Sheriff’s Office.
Greenville County is one of the very few sheriff’s offices in the state which do not oversee those divisions internally.
“I feel like if we bring Forensics under the umbrella of the Sheriff’s Office that we’ll obviously be able to serve the community a lot better when you talk about processing scenes, whether it’s a homicide or a car break in,” said Sheriff Lewis.
Right now when something happens, the Sheriff’s Office calls the Forensics Division to process the evidence on sight.
That evidence is then stored and both Forensics and the Sheriff’s Office work hand and hand throughout the case.
Sheriff Lewis said it would make sense to have forensics investigators train his deputies so that they would be able to process scenes faster.
However, it’s up to Greenville County Council to give Sheriff Lewis the green light.
“They would have to provide an ordinance to make that happen,” Sheriff Lewis explained. “Because back in the 80’s there was an ordinance written that took the jail and the forensics and those things and put them under police services.”
As for hesitancy in regard to giving the Sheriff’s Office complete control over an investigation, Sheriff Lewis said they already have that now. That’s because the evidence the Forensics Division gets is what the Sheriff’s Office provides them with.
“If you’re talking about interfering with an investigation whether it was hiding evidence, planting evidence, destroying evidence that was on a scene… All of that can be done by any officer, or any deputy that arrives on scene long before forensics gets there,” said Sheriff Lewis.
He said there isn’t a case for that argument.
Sheriff Lewis added that for investigations internally, like an officer-involved shooting, his deputies wouldn’t be a part of that either.
“We had an officer-involved shooting last week. The forensics folks that handled that were SLED. The investigators that handled that were from SLED. They would never respond to anything like that to stick their finger in it and impede that investigation” Sheriff Lewis said. “They don’t have that opportunity.”
He said it’s about adding staff to the Sheriff’s Office to help them be more cohesive and providing a service to the county.
7 News is working to gather more feedback from County Council members on the proposed changes.
No word yet on when the proposal could go before council.