GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – There’s a new sheriff in town in Greenville County.
Sheriff Will Lewis, who’s career in law enforcement spans 16 years, sat down with 7News Tuesday afternoon to talk about his plans and hopes for the community.
“I was six-years-old when I decided I wanted to be a law enforcement officer,” Lewis said.
He says his election to office was humbling to say the least.
The father of three, military veteran, and Upstate native will now oversee an office of around 600 people. Many of those people worked patrol with him and says were the catalyst for some of the changes he’s implementing.
“They’re phenomenal ideas,” Lewis said. “We used to sit on the side of the road at night when calls were slow and talk back and forth about what we would do to change things.”
The sheriff says one of those ideas is creating an online crime reporting system to make it easier for people to document crimes. He wants to involve Greenville Police Department, too and says the system should be ready in the next few weeks.
He says listening to those ideas is important in building up the sheriff’s office.
“To have a say so in what goes on, that increases the morale, and once you increase the morale of the men and women in the sheriff’s office, that only leads to better community relationships,” Lewis said.
Better community relations is a long term goal of his as well as making mental health and crisis intervention training available to all deputies. He says he would like to see community watch programs form in all rural areas of the county, and he would also like to pursue getting higher pay for deputies.
“It’s a very daunting task to leave your wife and newborn child at home alone at 7 o’clock at night for $36,000 a year,” Lewis said.
He says he does have a stack of potential new hires’ paperwork, many of whom are law enforcement officers relocating to the area.
“We’re getting certified law enforcement that we don’t have to send back through the academy,” Lewis said.
He says that will also save tax payers money in training costs.
As for now, he’s created a social media task force and a new “Internet Crimes Against Children” team.
He’s shifted man power to allow for more deputies to respond to calls and changed the cold case division from part-time to full-time to help better fight crime.
“We need people working 24/7 around the clock on any lead that comes in, anything that we see, and only having full time eyes can we do that,” Lewis said.
He does admit the transition hasn’t been as smooth as he’d like, and there’s one big thing he still wants to accomplish.
“It is the top priority,” Lewis said. “I need those body cameras in. They tell an objective story.”
Which he says will help hold the community and his deputies accountable. It’s a community he calls home and is excited to serve.
“Greenville’s been very good to me, and to be able to give back is just a great opportunity,” Lewis said.
Sheriff Lewis’s public swearing in ceremony will be held sometime next week.