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As violent crime continues to be a problem in Lancaster County, the candidates in this year’s sheriff’s race have offered several solutions for curbing everything from illegal drugs to gangs to armed robberies.
Facing each other in the contested election are incumbent Sheriff and Democrat Barry Faile and his Republican challenger Scott Case.
Both are speaking out about the prevalence of robberies, burglaries, assaults and murders, the latter of which has reached 11 in the county this year, and each candidate has plans to make the county safer for residents.
Sheriff Barry Faile
A new sheriff’s office complex, increased manpower and tighter connections with local, state and federal agencies are all factors the incumbent sheriff hopes will aid his office in the war on crime.
Faile, nearing the end of his first term, said he can trace a majority of the county’s criminal problems back to two concerns- drugs and gangs. He said both play a part in or lead to other types of crime, such as burglaries and assaults.
If re-elected, he plans to continue using specialized gang and drug units, while also focusing on partnerships with other agencies, to reduce both crime and repeat offenders.
“We’re making more drug cases than ever before and we made two large gang cases in the last year, something that is almost unheard of in South Carolina because of the elements it takes to prove those cases,” Faile said.
He referenced an operation his office partnered with last fall that saw 15 suspected gang members arrested on 53 felony charges, as well as one this year where 19 suspected Hells Angels members were arrested on a 91-count indictment.
Also on Faile’s mind is making sure his office provides a consistent level of service as the county rapidly continues to grow.
Ways to address this include adding extra deputies to his force and continuing with a career ladder to help retain deputies who otherwise may leave for surrounding agencies, Faile said.
Several grants awarded under Faile’s watch are helping fund these efforts, including one to help purchase equipment so deputies can submit reports from the field, which in turn, allows them more patrol time.
Faile points to several other accomplishments as reasons why he should be reelected, including helping his office become one of only 44 state law enforcement agencies to earn its accreditation in March 2011.
“I think these things we’ve been able to accomplish over the last four years speak for themselves,” Faile said. “I’ve served the people of Lancaster County for the last 23 years. I started at patrol deputy and moved my way up to sheriff. This is a not a part-time career choice for me.”
As the challenger in this year’s race, Case also emphasizes the need to target and eliminate crimes related to gangs and drugs.
“The gangs run drugs, the drugs fuel break-ins and larcenies,” he said. “It all works hand in hand. If we can get rid of gangs and drugs, we then cut down on other crimes.”
Case, a Lancaster resident and lead investigator with the Great Falls Police Department, joined the race to help rid the community of crime.
“Part of the reason I do law enforcement is because I love helping other people,” Case said. “Lancaster keeps growing by leaps and bounds and I have some really fresh ideas to make law enforcement better.”
He said one of those new ideas includes creating a community advisory board where he would meet on a regular basis with residents from throughout the county.
“We could go over issues from each neighborhood and meet with them personally,” he said. “I want to show them I’m trying to reach out to the community. Once they see I’m real about this, they will start reaching back.”
Other ideas he would like to implement include creating a major crimes unit to investigate drugs, gangs and violent crimes, as well as working closer with other law enforcement agencies.
“If we can work closer with federal agencies to get people indicted on federal charges I think that will wake up people. Then they won’t want to commit a crime in Lancaster County. They will also serve more time on federal charges,” he said.
He also hopes to address ways to boost manpower at the sheriff’s office.
“The way Lancaster County is growing, we’ll need more officers,” he said.
If elected, Case said he has the experience to not only reduce crime, but manage the day-to-day affairs of the sheriff’s office.
“With my law enforcement and managerial background I have the experience to run the office in an efficient manner,” Case said. “I’m not saying it’s not run efficiently, but I would be more transparent with the budget and a little tighter with the budget.”
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416