A race to the Oconee County Sheriff seat: Who’ll be next?

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OCONEE COUNTY, SC (WSPA)– Voters in Oconee County will soon choose between two candidates for Sheriff in next week’s primary. Both candidates tell 7-News why they want your vote.

“My goal as sheriff: I don’t want anyone…majority or minority to ever be afraid of the police,” said Sheriff Mike Crenshaw.

“My oath as sheriff tells me all men are created equal and we need to make sure that going forward, we’re doing more,” Crenshaw said.

“When you treat every single person that you encounter like it’s someone you know personally, there is an extra quality of service, an extra standard of excellence that we can produce,” said Sgt. Amanda Tinsley.

Incumbent Sheriff Crenshaw has been in office since 2013. Now he’s running against Tinsley, who’s an investigator with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. Both said they’re equipped to take the seat.

“Well my commitment is to continue keeping pressure on drug dealers and arresting those, because I realize that illegal drugs account for 90% of all crimes,” said Crenshaw.

Crenshaw said he wants to continue to decrease domestic violence and with violent crimes.

“When I took office in 2013, violent crimes, we were having a rate of about 55 violent crimes for every 10,000 citizens. By being proactive, we’ve been able to reduce that to 26 crimes. So almost a 50% reduction in crimes per capita,” Crenshaw said.

As for Tinsley, her goal is to close what she said, is nearly 19,000 investigations left open.

“The closing of cases, the numbers of arrest, all of that will come naturally…by simply reminding ourselves, and focusing on people and purpose,” Tinsley said.

Tinsley said she’s been assigned lead investigator in over 1,100 cases, and claims to have a 90% closure rate. After 14 years with the agency (16 years in law enforcement), she’s fighting to shift the internal culture of the sheriff’s office towards focusing on the people beyond it’s walls.

“We have many more cases sitting idol that people are victims of. Individuals have been harmed that are not getting investigated because there’s not enough people,” Tinsley said. “So I’d like to create a special victims unit,” she added.

If re-elected, Sheriff Crenshaw who has 30 years, wants to bring something new too.

“Once we build our new jail, I want to convert our old jail into some type of drug treatment, alcohol treatment program,” Sheriff Crenshaw said. “I’m excited about the future. I think we’re going to see some positive results in attacking the drug problem through prevention, with enforcement, and then treatment as well,” Crenshaw added.

While the two opponents may have two different focuses, both said they ultimately want what’s best for the people of all races and backgrounds in Oconee County.

“If we establish race relationships and build partnerships for those we serve, that’s been my goal from day one, and I’ve got to do more,” Crenshaw said.

“People appreciate being listened to and having their voices heard. If you do that, the whole community as a whole is going to come together and help solve cases,” Tinsley added.

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

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