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Spartanburg County

SCSA addresses expectations for the office of Sheriff

It has been said that a problem exists when one's expectations and one's experiences do not agree. If this statement is true, and I certainly believe it is, we have a problem.

I believe the public has certain expectations of the Sheriff. The public expects the Sheriff to be more accountable and above reproach than any other elected officer. There is a common expectation that the Sheriff will do what is right and enforce the law equally — for friend or foe. Likewise, the Sheriff is expected to be the most trustworthy and dependable public servant in his county. Are these expectations fair? Maybe. Maybe not. But the reality is these expectations are fully understood by everyone who chooses to
run for the Office of Sheriff. In more cases than not, the individual who wins that Office
is the one who demonstrates that he is the most capable candidate of fulfilling these
expectations. Well, considering a number of allegations that have surfaced over the past
few years, it appears a handful of Sheriffs are falling short of these expectations.

US Attorney General Bill Nettles has recently said, Public corruption, on any level, will
not be tolerated.” The Board of Directors of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association
wholeheartedly agrees. Far too many Sheriffs have found themselves on the wrong side
of the law over the past few years and there is no excuse for such behavior. The public
expects and deserves better.

In light of these allegations, some have argued that a Sheriff has too much power.
Some have insisted that term limits would help prevent such scenarios. I would argue
that our current system is working quite well for the vast majority of the Sheriffs in
South Carolina. Unfortunately, the poor decisions of a select few have cast a negative
light on all Sheriffs. Nevertheless, we must remember that the Office of Sheriff is still
one of high honor and distinction. Furthermore, we must remember that our Association
is full of Sheriffs who serve their communities every day with tremendous integrity
and humility.

Let me be perfectly clear. The South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association is not taking a
position on the guilt or innocence of any particular Sheriff. We simply realize that the
expectations of the Office of Sheriff have not been realized in all instances. There is
room for improvement. With that in mind, we are currently working on a number of
initiatives that will ensure our Sheriffs have the best training available. We will also be taking more of a hands on approach when it comes to the required training hours for Sheriffs. We want to ensure that ethics training is a priority and high value is placed on words such as honor, integrity, duty, and service.

In conclusion, we thank you for your continued support of our Association. We cannot
begin to express how much we appreciate and cherish the Honorary Members of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. In a time when some would question their investment, you have rallied around this Association and your individual Sheriff. We have actually seen an increase in the number of Honorary Members over the past four years. It is clear that you believe in and are committed to our mission. Likewise, we know your expectations. With your help, we hope to create an environment that will assist our Sheriffs in not only meeting, but exceeding your expectations in every way.

Jarrod M. Bruder

Executive Director

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