‘Please get involved,’ sheriff asks public

Sheriff James Hudson, right, speaks to the media last week. To his left is chief investigator Robin Bryant. PHOTO BY BOBBY BRYANT

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

editor@newsandpress.net

Darlington County Sheriff James Hudson has a message for the public: Help us help you. “Please get involved,” Hudson said last week during a news conference. “The sheriff’s office, or any law enforcement agency, cannot do this alone. It’s going to take the help of the people.” “Once the people get involved, and see that things will change, I think they’ll be pleased,” said the sheriff, whose term began in January. “But we’ve got to have their help. “We stated all throughout the campaign, this is not a James Hudson show. James Hudson does not own the sheriff’s office. This is the office of the people. And we’re going to continue to say that. We’re going to continue to practice that. But we’ve definitely got to have the help of the people.” Hudson held a press conference March 18 to allow his command staff to provide updates on what they’ve accomplished since Hudson took office. One topic was the recent string of apparently random shootings around the county and in surrounding counties. Hudson’s officers said the Sheriff’s Office has been “networking” with neighboring law-enforcement agencies to get a handle on cases like these. “We’ve had a number of what we call street shootings, or gang-related shootings, (around) the county,” said Capt. Robin Bryant, a veteran Sheriff’s Office employee whom Hudson named the agency’s chief investigator. “A lot of those have resulted in uncooperative victims, uncooperative witnesses, sadly.” “There are technologies constantly being developed … that may begin to tie certain groups to certain areas,” Bryant said. Florence County and Chesterfield County have been having similar problems with “street shootings,” and the Sheriff’s Office has been holding meetings with their officers to share information. Chief Deputy Chad McInville said, “We’ve learned that a lot of our suspects are actually from other counties, and they’re committing crimes here.” Bryant said that under Hudson, the Sheriff’s Office has reorganized its criminal investigations division into seven districts, with an investigator assigned to each district. “This allows us to identify trends in each of these neighborhoods,” Bryant said. An investigator has been assigned to all sexual assaults, child abuse and elder abuse countywide, Bryant said. Also, he said, an investigator has been put full-time on sex-offender-registry issues. “We now have approximately 165 people that are registered in Darlington County on the sex-offender registry,” Bryant said. “What the goal is now is to allow more frequent checks to their addresses, to make sure they’re living where they’re (supposed to be) living.” Investigators continue to examine unsolved murders in the county, Bryant said. “This is important. … We’ve gotten a lot of calls.” During January and February of this year, the agency’s criminal investigators have been assigned about 200 new cases, he said. McInville said the Sheriff’s Office has opened a substation in Hartsville, has moved three investigators to that office and plans to move a victim’s advocate there. They are working to establish a bloodhound unit for the Sheriff’s Office, he said. Capt. Mark Campbell, head of special operations, which includes narcotics, said that since the beginning of January, the narcotics unit, Special Incident Response Team, and other units working independently have served about 120 criminal warrants, executed 17 criminal search warrants and made 14 undercover drug buys. Since the beginning of January, he said, the narcotics division has seized about 1,709 grams of heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and synthetic narcotics. About 633 doses of illegal pills also have been seized. The drugs seized have a street value of more than $45,000, Campbell said. Capt. Curtis Bryant, head of the uniform patrol division, said that the patrol has answered about 5,000 calls since the beginning of January, written 1,200 reports and made 78 arrests. He said the Sheriff’s Office has put deputies in seven zones throughout the county: “It just puts them closer to the individual communities.” Maj. Waddell Coe, head of the detention center, said that the COVID-19 outbreak at the jail in January was contained: “We got around that, and that’s in the past.” Sheriff Hudson said the agency needs to develop programs “to help our youth, and we’re not going to forget about the elderly, either.” He added: “I just want to thank all the citizens who have already decided to get involved in their communities, to help us reduce crime in their communities, to make Darlington County a safer place, and to help us do the things that we need to get done.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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