Extra Funds Request for Sheriff’s Office

Three people representing industry from Northern Laurens County appeared before Laurens County Council last night, requesting additional funding for the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office.

Scott Nelson of ZF Security said Fire Service to the area is now in good condition, noting the new Thompson Road station along with Gray Court providing protection. He said, while EMS services are not yet where they need to be, they’ve gotten quite a bit better. But he said that response times from the Sheriff’s Office are much too long.

He noted the large number of people working in industry in that part of the county, noting ZF has 4,000 people enter their facilities every day. “We have a lot of folks that are coming in. We expect those people to be protected. We expect that time to be significantly reduced.”

Nelson said a recent mass shooting at a Dayton, Ohio nightclub had police on scene in 32 seconds and that the Arora, Colorado theater shooting several years ago had law enforcement on the scene in 90 seconds.

He contrasted those cases with Laurens County. “When the Teknor Apex stabbing occurred back in June of ’17, it was eleven minutes before law enforcement officers arrived. When we look at the Yanfeng incident….it was sixteen-and-a-half (16 1/2) minutes before the first law enforcement officer arrived on the scene.”

Nelson also said the Sheriff’s Office has only four to six officers on duty around the clock to cover the 752 square miles of Laurens County. In addition to more deputies, he called for funding better facilities and equipment for the Sheriff’s Office.

After several minutes, County Council member Joe Wood said he didn’t appreciate being talked down to. “What are we going to do, tax all these people, raise all their taxes 50% out here to satisfy you?”

Another of the delegation from Northern Laurens County industry suggested they’re asking for a start to the issue of addressing the problem.

County Council Chair David Pitts noted that Laurens County School Districts 55 and 56 pay for School Resource Officers to have on-site law enforcement, and suggested industry may consider that option. He also said that if, God forbid, we have a mass shooting, there will never be enough law enforcement. Mr. Nelson concurred with that.

Scott Nelson asked if the Sheriff’s at least staff the new Emergency Services building at Owings Industrial Park. David Pitts responded, “This council has not precluded Sheriff Reynolds from placing an officer in that building. Should he so choose to do, he could do that. That would be left up to him. That’s what I was explaining earlier, while we allocate the money, he directs that department.”

The Chair of Council said the request will be received as information, pending upcoming budget discussions.