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In our January column, we talked about the need to prioritize public safety in Lancaster County. Recent events remind us there is still more to be done and Lancaster Republicans are working to make positive contributions toward supporting those who work to keep our county’s communities and neighborhoods safer.
Recent murders in Lancaster County remind us of a sobering reality: our county is still home to far too much violent crime. Republicans on Lancaster County Council and officers of the county GOP are working with our county’s public safety agencies, as well as our sheriff and solicitor, to make sure needed programs and personnel are funded. While the sheriff and solicitor were elected as Democrats, we’re not going to put party politics ahead of public safety.
We are concerned about several federal grants that are being used to help fund fire and law enforcement programs. Those funds create long-term unfunded mandates that require our county to fund these programs long after federal funds have stopped coming in for those programs. Public safety agencies shouldn’t have to beg Washington for needed funds at the price of increasing our national debt and in several meetings, county Republicans have voiced concerns about the need to prioritize funding these programs at home.
The 6th Circuit Solicitor’s Office remains one of the most under-funded solicitor’s offices in South Carolina. Without proper funding, cases wait too long to go to trial. This means evidence can be lost, witnesses can move away and pressure will increase to make plea-bargain deals. We’re committed to making sure the solicitor’s office receives the funding needed to prosecute cases swiftly and effectively.
Our county’s most critical need for public safety isn’t partisan at all. In the last 20 years, the number of volunteer firefighters and first responders in Lancaster County has fallen by roughly half. This increases response times and creates a danger to the well-being of every Lancaster County resident. In a county with nearly 80,000 residents, fewer than 500 volunteer their time to answer fire and rescue calls. Our sheriff’s office also has a volunteer reserve program. You don’t have to be a Republican or a Democrat to get involved. Please contact the sheriff’s office or your local fire department to see if you can volunteer your time helping keep our friends, family and neighbors safe.
Putting public safety first in Lancaster County is a top Republican priority, but it’s also a cause that is shared by Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike. If you’re concerned about making Lancaster County a safer place, please get informed and get involved.
Lancaster County Republicans meet at 7 p.m. every third Thursday of the month at Mike Williams Builders, 1351 Charlotte Highway. Our county reorganization is coming up and we encourage you to get involved. If you’re concerned about the direction of our county, state and country, we invite you to attend.
Sandy McGarry is chairwoman of the Lancaster County Republican Party.