After several years in charge of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff John Skipper is facing 2 challengers for the job.
Chad McBride has about 15 years in law enforcement. He says he’s served under three Anderson County Sheriffs.
“I don’t even see how they are keeping their heads above water at this point,” McBride said of the Sheriff’s office current condition.
Jeremy Pickens has served as an officer since 2007 at both the Anderson Police department and Highway Patrol.
Both are eager to push Skipper out, a man who has more than 25 years of experience.
“We need someone that is still motivated about the job and still passionate about the job,” Pickens said.
All 3 candidates have taken their debates to social media. Pickens and McBride say crime is up thanks to the Sheriff’s leadership.
“It is definitely a unique problem here in Anderson County. Sure, there is crime everywhere but it is more intense, more potent,” McBride said.
The Sheriff disagrees and says the stats his challengers are using are outdated and unreliable. While Anderson county had a crime spike in 2013, they have worked hard to lower the amount.
“We have to try to adjust and I think we are doing that job as the fact that we have reduced those crimes in 2015,” said Sheriff Skipper.
“No matter if the stats say crime is great or crime sucks, the citizens think it is bad,” Pickens added.
Either way they can all agree, more patrol is needed on the streets.
“The calls for service at the Sheriff’s office is going up each year, if the staff doesn’t increase with that, we will certainly fall behind,” The Sheriff explained. “I think we need to keep on course to increase the staff. So that we can give the citizens the service that they deserve.”
“There is no other way to do it than get out here and proactively police,” said Pickens.
They can’t agree on how to make it happen within the county’s $33.5 million budget. Pickens and McBride believe the Sheriff isn’t using the budget wisely and that he spends too much on administrative or leadership positions.
“So much of that can be traded for deputy positions,” McBride said. “To have that layer of protection will deter a lot of activity that is going on now.”
“We have to look at options that we have now to create the funds to do that,” Pickens pressed.
Skipper says in his years as Sheriff, he has repeatedly asked the county council for more money to get more deputies. He says despite what others think, he can’t freely use the money he has to get more staffed.
“If we want 5 cars out of the money, they’d say no you can only buy one but they can’t do that. I do that money,” Sheriff Skipper explained. “But in the budget you have payroll staffing and you have capital project staffing and in the pay roll staffing, no matter what any other person says, county council has to vote on the increase of staff that you have.”
The Sheriff says within the budget, only 20 million is used on law enforcement, including deputies. The rest of the money is divided by Public Safety funds and other accounts like for SRO’s and hazmat funding.
But McBride and Pickens say, they’ll be changing how the money is used, if they’re elected.
“The problem right now is that we only have 8 or 9 deputies per shift,” McBride said. ”He’s got more command staff sitting in the office than he does out on patrol. For an agency his size, the command staff is enormous.”
“We need to retain people that are already there and work on the recruiting process. I’m looking to cut administrative positions to open up money to make that happen,” Pickens stated. “We have to work on morale and the publics trust and utilizing tax dollars. We need to get the best bang for the buck. I want to be a sheriff that is involved. I want to be in the community daily and I would expect that from my command staff.”
“The community is to the point now where they won’t report crime because they feel like there is no reason to do it because nothing will be done,” Pickens continued.
McBride says during his year’s at the Sheriff’s Office working for Sheriff Skipper, he believes the leadership at the agency made a number of people unhappy. He hopes to turn that around, under his direction.
“Over the last 3 and a half years we have had a huge turnover at the sheriff’s office and I was one of them. We can see that we are getting hammered here in Anderson County,“ McBride said about his goals for the office. ”I have a large amount of people, good seasoned deputies that want to come back with new leadership.”
Sheriff Skipper countered that belief, saying he’s kept a number of hard-working deputies at his agency that continue to tackle problems in the county. He says recently, the number of arrests on drug-related crimes has increased, thanks to dedicated officers.
“I have people on different task forces in this county and across the upstate and they lead to across this country. We have 300 to 400 arrests every year. Uniform patrol are doing many of those.”
The republican primary election for Anderson County Sheriff is June 14th.
Voters can check online at http://www.scvotes.org to find out where they will vote for these primaries and what districts they live in.