By Stan Welch
Newly installed Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride, speaking to The Journal in an impromptu interview outside County Council chambers Tuesday night, made it clear that his department’s attitude and emphasis will be different from that of the outgoing administration.
Perhaps the greatest difference will be the greater involvement of the deputies on patrol as investigators, and not just report takers.
“We need to get our deputies back to being law enforcement officers and investigators. The idea of just taking reports and stacking up paper somewhere is no longer happening. Unless a major crime is involved, like homicide or sexual assault or serious physical assault, I don’t see the point in tying up special investigators,” said McBride.
He built much of his campaign around the idea of putting more deputies on the roads of Anderson County, and he has reduced the size and increased the number of the areas of responsibility.
“We have made the districts to be patrolled smaller. This should improve response times, but it will also let the deputies get to know their area better. They will know the people better, and they will know who the bad guys are too.”
McBride, who has been with the sheriff’s office since the Gene Taylor era, sympathizes with the average victim of a property crime.
“You know, it may not seem like a big deal to have a lawn mower or a golf cart or a utility trailer stolen,” McBride said. “But if it’s your property, it is a big deal. People are entitled to have their property kept safe. In recent years, our deputies have just taken reports and left a business card, and basically said, if you catch the guy, call us. Those days are over. My deputies are going to be doing police work, not just paper work. They know that, and they are excited about it. Nobody becomes a cop because they love paperwork.”
On the question of paper work and reports, the new sheriff stated that the past administration policies on incident reports is certain to be reviewed,and likely to be revised.
Former Sheriff John Skipper complied with the public information protocol of the national accreditation group that his department was a member of.
That protocol was in direct opposition to the South Carolina Freedom of Information act. Despite repeated complaints from The Journal, Skipper refused to change his policy.
McBride, who served as Skipper’s public information officer briefly, takes a different view.
“I see no reason to have a policy that is demonstrably opposed to state law. I certainly see no reason to withhold the names of suspects in a crime in most cases. We ask the public to help us keep watchful eyes on their community. They can do a much better job of that if they have more information.”
McBride was at the end of a long day. He began swearing in his deputies at four o’clock in the morning, so that the first shift would already be sworn when they hit the streets at seven a.m. He then swore in the remainder of the department. He hopes to have twenty deputies on patrol at any given time. He concedes that he needs to get more deputies through the police academy before he can achieve that goal, but reiterated that street patrol is the heart of law enforcement.
“Instead of taking a report and giving a citizen a card and telling them to call us if they learn anything, I want my officers to reach the point where they shake the citizen’s hand and say ‘If there is any thing else I can do to be of service, please let me know.”