At White Plains Crime WatchBy Stan Welch – Sheriff Chad McBride met with several dozen citizens and members of the White Plains Crime Watch last Thursday and outlined his plan to improve law enforcement, not only in that area, but across the county.
Much of the discussion focused on the issue of the overcrowded jail, and McBride’s proposal to address the problem.
The sheriff explained that the county was first informed that the state and federal authorities were concerned with the problem back in 2006. “Fortunately, or unfortunately, as the national economy got worse, the pressure on Anderson County to address the problem lessened somewhat. But now, the South Carolina Department of Corrections is on our backs about it once again. So are the feds.”
McBride told the crowd that as of that morning, the jail was at almost twice the approved capacity, with one area approved for occupancy by thirty two inmates actually holding seventy four. He pointed out that such conditions are not only potentially dangerous for the inmates, but also for the staff. “Inmates are often angry or frustrated, and not very cooperative. Sometimes officers have to go into the cells to handle certain situations, and that puts them at a serious risk. They can be sucker punched or attacked, or assaulted in any number of ways.”
At the same time, he made it clear that he is not interested in making convicted inmates comfortable. “I’m asking for concrete and iron bars, not wide screen televisions and workout equipment. I am of the school of thought that prisoners should leave a jail thinking that they never want to go back there.”
He said he is also looking for innovative ways to make the jail pay for itself whenever possible.” The jail is a beast. It just sucks up so much of the budget that we have to work with. If the Council decides to build a new facility, which is one of several options being studied, I would like to see a special wing built for holding federal prisoners. The Feds pay fifty five dollars a day per inmate incarcerated. That could generate quite a bit of revenue for us. We also need better facilities for juveniles and women inmates. We currently send our juveniles to Greenville County, and pay them a daily amount. I would also love to have classroom space so that juveniles and younger inmates could get their GEDs, and give them a fighting chance at staying out of jail.”
In other aspects of the challenges facing his department, McBride said that retaining trained officers is one of the keys. “Retention is much more efficient than recruiting and training new officers each year. We have managed to increase our starting salary by a thousand dollars a year to thirty two thousand. That’s progress, but Greenville County starts at thirty six thousand and will increase to forty one thousand in their coming budget year. Pickens County starts at thirty seven thousand, five hundred.”
Pickens county also broke ground on their new jail last week.
The sheriff pointed out that the school districts are considering the idea of requesting additional school resource officers (SROs), in part because of the school shootings in Townsville last year. “We’re hearing numbers like fifteen to eighteen additional SROs, which would represent the twenty officers we are trying to put on patrol for each shift. That would be a tremendous increase in the demand for us to supply.” School crossing guards are also under the ACSO supervision, a situation McBride says he would like to see change. “I would like to see the school districts assume that responsibility.”
He has four officers currently attending the police academy, and has recently hired four deputies who are already certified. He plans to send four officers to the justice academy in March, April and May in pursuit of that twenty man patrol on each shift.
McBride also met with a Chedder Crime Watch program Tuesday night.
Approximately 20 area residents turned out for the meeting held at the Cheddar Fire Department.