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Deaths, injuries and collisions.
Each word evokes a plethora of emotions, but for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office each syllable serves as motivation for keeping county roads safer for motorists.
As part of that effort, the sheriff’s office’s newly created DUI Enforcement Team netted more than a dozen arrests and issued several citations and warnings during a two-week period in December, said Sheriff’s Maj. Matt Shaw in a press release.
According to the team’s first monthly report, which spanned Dec. 19-31, the team arrested three people on driving under the influence charges, three on drug charges, seven for other criminal activity and one on an outstanding fugitive warrant.
The team also cited 54 people for traffic-related offenses, such as speeding and reckless driving, and issued 52 warnings, the release said.
The two-deputy enforcement team was created and funded by an S.C. Department of Public Safety grant the sheriff’s office received in December.
Working in conjunction with the already-existing Community Action Team, the enforcement team’s primary focus is increasing highway safety and decreasing the number of DUI-related collisions, deaths and injuries.
The team will also provide educational presentations on the dangers of DUI throughout the county.
Shaw said two current deputies were transferred into the enforcement team positions and their salaries are paid for through the grant.
So far, Shaw is pleased by the results.
“You can see that in just 12 days they were able to find three (DUIs) and that’s three people then who didn’t hurt anybody that night,” he said. “They also did some (arrests) for driving offenses, were able to find some folks who were wanted and made some narcotics charges. The first month was a success.”
Having a team which can exclusively target traffic safety is a major change for the sheriff’s office, he said.
“Traditionally, DUI offense arrests aren’t something we make a lot of, mostly because of manpower issues running from call to call. Actively searching for DUI offenders is not something we’ve had the luxury to do, though we do happen upon them all the time,” Shaw said. “But for these two people, that’s their sole purpose.”
About the grant
The sheriff’s office announced Dec. 7 it was notified by the S.C. Department of Public Safety about the $219,131 state grant to fund the enforcement team in Lancaster County. The grant will pay for salaries, retirement and other fringe benefits, equipment, vehicles, mileage and training for two deputies. The grant took effect immediately and will run one year at a time, according to a sheriff’s office media release. The sheriff’s office can apply to renew the grant for two additional years.
Commenting on the grant award last December, Sheriff Barry Faile said his office was “extremely excited” to receive the grant, especially since they were turned down for similar grants in the past.
“We didn’t give up and are thrilled to add these positions to our team,” Faile said.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416