By Stan Welch
Republican candidate for the Anderson County Sheriff’s job, Brandon Surratt, attended the Pelzer Town Council meeting Tuesday night and laid out his philosophy of law enforcement to a handful of people who attended.
Surratt, who currently works for the Greenville County Sheriff’s department, has previously worked for both the city of Anderson as well as for the ACSO. He began by challenging the need for Pelzer to pay extra for a dedicated county deputy to patrol the town. “Why are you having to pay extra when you already pay county taxes?” The town currently pays approximately $73,000 a year for a deputy to work five eight hour shifts a week exclusively in the town limits. The budget that received first reading approval Tuesday night would extend that arrangement to seven days a week, at an additional cost of roughly $29,000. (For details, see related story elsewhere in this issue.)
When asked what alternative he offered, he stated that there are currently eleven deputies actually on patrol during any given shift. “That’s one deputy for about sixty eight square miles. That number of deputies should be doubled, at least. I would like to see one deputy for every fifteen to twenty square miles. Sheriff McBride has a top heavy department, with about three hundred personnel total. But the vast majority of those personnel are sitting in offices or just responding to specific crimes as investigators.
He spoke about grants that are available to put additional deputies and cruisers on the road just to deal with DUI cases. “I’m big on DUIs. Every impaired driver that we take off the road directly affects the public safety. But currently, none of those grants is being used. That just makes no sense. It wouldn’t cost the county a thing.” He also supports check points being set up on a rotating schedule. “It’s amazing how many people we see with warrants, or suspended licenses or dope in the car. It’s just another tool that can increase the effectiveness of law enforcement.”
Asked what his position on enforcing stay at home orders issued by the governor during the current pandemic, he answered simply,” I believe in the Constitution. People have the right to worship, to freely assemble, and yes, to run their own businesses. I’ll leave it at that.”
He is extremely ambitious when it comes to addressing the county jail’s chronic overcrowding. “I would like to see a jail built with a capacity of two thousand inmates. I know that is highly unlikely, but if we don’t do something serious, and soon, the Department of Justice is going to show up one day and take the problem off our hands. And I don’t want the feds telling us how to run our own jail.”
HE stressed his desire to be transparent and visible. “I want to be available all the time, not just during an election year.” He also emphasized that he would comply with the S.C. Freedom of Information Act by making incident reports available to both the media and the public on a timely basis. “Why wouldn’t you want to share that information, especially if you’re doing your job? Community policing means building relationships, and the first step in that process is being open.”
In other business, the Pelzer Town Council gave first reading approval to the proposed budget and will announce the date of the required public hearing soon. They also approved the expenditure of ten thousand dollars in additional Christmas decoration, as well as thirty one hundred dollars to mount ten portraits/banners of the residents graduating from Palmetto High School next month.
By Stan Welch