Monthly Archives: March 2013

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office P.I.O. to Appear on “Community Sound-Off” Program This Weekend

(Walhalla, SC)————–Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jimmy Watt will appear this Sunday afternoon on the “Community Sound-Off” program on 96.3FM, WGOG, in Walhalla.

The show will air around 12:20pm and is moderated by WGOG News Director Dick Mangrum. The show will focus on the long relationship between the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Crimestoppers.

Everyone is encouraged to tune in Sunday.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is Stepping Up Enforcement

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is stepping up enforcement throughout the county in an effort to combat traffic violations and crime.

The Sheriff’s Office began last Friday an effort to set up license checkpoints in different parts of the county. According to Chief Deputy Kevin Davis, the Sheriff’s Office will set up these checkpoints about 2 to 3 times a month.

“The license checkpoints will be in compliance with current and state laws.” according to Davis. “The Sheriff’s Office has set up an extra patrol database which will allow us to do license checkpoints in areas of the county where we have specific complaints of traffic violations.”

The Sheriff’s Office is also hoping to curb the amount of traffic accidents and traffic fatalities throughout the county. According to Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis, there were 23 traffic fatalities in 2012.

“A by-product of these checkpoints will be the citizens of Oconee seeing the Sheriff’s Office in their neighborhoods. This will hopefully curb crime and improve the safety of travel as a whole throughout the county,” says Davis.

If you come to a checkpoint as you travel, you must produce a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and a valid vehicle registration. This enforcement will continue for the foreseeable future, according to Davis.

Crimestoppers and The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Continue a Longstanding Partnership

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

Walhalla, SC)———–For many years, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Crimestoppers have had a relationship that has helped to keep Oconee County safe through a partnership of law enforcement, the media, business and industry, civic leaders, and ordinary citizens, who band together to fight crime in our communities. Many individuals have seen Crimestoppers mentioned on television and radio, in newspapers, on bumper stickers and posters, but many may not understand the history behind Crimestoppers or how it works internally.

Crimestoppers was established in 1976 with the purpose of gathering information about criminal activity and fugitives on the run that may not be available otherwise by asking ordinary citizens to get involved by the giving of information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of those sought by law enforcement. The organization got its start from the shooting death of Michael Carmen in July of 1976 at a small gas station in Albuquerque, New Mexico after the gas station was robbed. Local law enforcement reenacted the crime on KOAT-TV during their 10 o’clock newscast on September 8th, 1976. A tip the next morning led to the suspects involved in the shooting to be arrested within 72 hours. From there, detective Greg MacAleese convinced the Albuquerque Police Department that a program like this was needed on a regular basis, and the rest you could say, was history. Over 100,000 persons had served on the Board of Directors of Crimestopper organizations around the world and billions of dollars of stolen property and narcotics have been recovered.

Individuals who have information about a crime or individuals who are wanted by law enforcement can call, text, or go the crimestoppers website and supply information confidentially. For example, if an individual calls in a tip to Crimstoppers, that person does not have to give their name, but is assigned a code number and is given a callback date. If an arrest is made, the Crimestoppers coordinator will inform the caller upon callback that he or she is eligible for a reward, which the amount being decided upon by the Board of Directors, and also how, where and when to get their reward. If the information or tip that a person gives to Crimestoppers leads to an arrest in a case, then the person relaying the information is eligible for a reward of up to $2,000. Oftentimes, the amount of the reward is based upon the value of the information given and how serious the crime is. However, Crimestoppers is not just for huge or highly publicized crimes. Any tip on any crime can be called into Crimestoppers.

Crimestoppers is a non-profit, 501-C-3 organization that in Oconee County raises money for its operations through a car show during the Apple Festival in Westminster in September and through one or two charity golf tournaments per year. However, citizens, business and industry, and civic groups and organizations can donate to Crimestoppers and can in many cases receive a tax deduction.

For many years, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has been the coordinator for Crimestoppers, working together with the local Crimestoppers Board of Directors to come up with solutions in helping to stop crime in the county. Crimestoppers of Oconee County was incorporated on May 10th, 1995 and meets at least once a month at the Law Enforcement Center in Walhalla.

If anyone has a tip on a crime, then they are encouraged to get in touch with Crimestoppers. They can call 864-638-STOP or 1-888-CRIME-SC. Individuals can also visit the Crimestoppers website at www.sccrimestoppers.com, or text in their tips to 274637.

Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw Meets with Walhalla Residents on His Plan for a New Detention Facility

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw met with citizens of the city of Walhalla Tuesday night at the Walhalla Depot to present his plan for a new detention facility. The facility would be built in a location between the current law enforcement center and West View Cemetery.

“I wanted to have this meeting to talk with you. I’m kind of approaching this as the new neighbor at 300 South Church Street,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “We moved in in January and we are looking at doing some new building.”

The facility that Sheriff Crenshaw proposes would be a two-story new housing pod, which would contain the part of the detention center that houses 192 beds, plus, a support building that would contain the laundry and kitchen areas.

“The Department of Corrections has been up and cited some deficiencies with the current jail,” according to Sheriff Crenshaw. “It is not current with today’s standards, and they have been to County Council and I think they have addressed it there.”

Oconee County Council had asked Sheriff Crenshaw upon his becoming Sheriff to come up with a plan for a new detention facility. The county bought some property on Pine Street, according to Sheriff Crenshaw, which he had the architects to take a look at. The architects informed the Sheriff that they could build about a 162 bed facility on the new property. However, there was no room to expand on that property, according to the Sheriff, at a cost of somewhere near $17 million dollars. The current detention facility houses 122 beds.

The Sheriff said he looked out towards the Five Forks area of Oconee County, which according to the Sheriff contained a lack of infrastructure.

“Cost was a big concern going forward,” according to Sheriff Crenshaw.

The original plan was to put the new detention facility on the left side of the current LEC building, but the right side presents a more viable option, according to the Sheriff, due partly to the fact that the jail administration is housed in the current Law Enforcement Center. Sheriff Crenshaw said that this plan would fit into his budget of $15.7 million dollars that he has to work with.

“The current facility has an outdoor rec yard,” according to the Sheriff. “That has always been a problem in year’s past. The new housing pod would have an interior rec yard. There will not be an exterior rec yard, but an interior rec yard. There will be an exterior wall with an opening at the top. This will be a two story building, about 25 feet tall. There will a rec yard on the lower level and upper level on each end. I think that will help us to control the noise and traffic.”

The current detention center would not be torn down, but would be used to house records for example. While some in the audience tonight agreed with the plan, others disagreed with the proposal from the Sheriff, citing declining property values, noise, and the close location and safety concerns with the detention center being close to their property.

Sheriff Crenshaw will be addressing the Walhalla City Council on April 19th at 5:30pm concerning his plans for a new detention facility. No final decision location for the new detention facility has been made. If the City votes down the plan, according to Sheriff Crenshaw, then a place outside the city limits of Walhalla would have to be looked at, which would cost more money than planned; including the fact that jail administration would have to be moved out.

Possible Dangers from Meth Can Be Found on Roadways in Oconee County

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——–As thoughts turn towards spring and people begin to think about the cleaning of their yards and groups fan out to clean the roadways across the county, there are hidden dangers that the citizens of Oconee County may not think about, specifically the dangers associated with the manufacture of methamphetamines.

When most people think about the manufacture of this illegal and highly dangerous drug, many think of meth houses or rolling meth labs inside vehicles that travel the roads. Many of the materials used to make meth are highly toxic either by themselves or when mixed together and require special clean-up procedures, including clean-up crews having to wear certified breathing apparatuses and chemical protective clothing. However, there are those who are now making this rather inexpensive and highly profitable drug in 2 liter soft drink bottles or Gatorade type bottles, which are basically used as a lab. When they are finished, many of these bottles find their way alongside the roadways, and not just on back roads, but on primary roads as well. One can normally tell the color of the meth that was manufactured due to the color of the pills used to make the product.

It is not just soft or sport drink bottles that present a hazard. Materials to make meth or meth itself can also be found in duffel bags or book bags as well. On a day when it has rained, is foggy, or there is a lot of moisture in the air, one can ignite the contents inside a duffel or book bag, which can cause serious injury, but just simply opening the bag.

As you begin to clean up the roadways either at your residence or with a group, if you find something suspicious, don’t tamper with it or pick it up. Touching the contents can be dangerous and it is recommended that individuals move as far away from the discovery as possible. The Oconee County Sheriff’s Department recommends that you call your local law enforcement agency who can safely dispose of anything potentially dangerous safely. Anyone coming in contact with a meth lab in this particular situation should also call 911 immediately to receive medical assistance. For example, the inhalation of fumes, which you may not be able to smell, and other injuries may not be immediately obvious but they can cause damage to your health that may be permanent. There is always a presence of life threatening gases in relation to any meth lab, even those labs that are created in drink bottles, and the chemicals used in the process of making meth can cause different injuries and reactions by the human body.

Whether it is a meth lab or a 2 liter drink or sports bottle found on the side of the road, it becomes an “emergency response” situation at that time it is discovered. Whenever law enforcement or emergency responders arrive on the scene, their first response is protecting not only citizens and bystanders, but also themselves as well. Once again, should anything that looks suspicious be found on the roadway, move away and call your local law enforcement agency immediately and 911 if you think exposure has occurred.

Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw Invites Oconee Citizens to Become Honorary Members of the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————–Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw is inviting citizens of Oconee County to become honorary members of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association. Membership appeals will go out via mail from March 8th through March 12th. It is a voluntary program in which individuals choosing to join can do so for as little as $25, while businesses can join for a $50 contribution. All contributions are tax deductible and the funding from the contributions provides critically important technical resources, training, and legislative support on key criminal justice issues.

The purpose of this program is to respond to the increasing number of people wanting to assist law enforcement officials and help to build stronger partnerships in the fight against crime.
“The S.C. Sheriffs’ Association provides training opportunities and supports our Sheriff’s Office in many ways,” according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “I fully endorse this association as a way for our citizens to support our law enforcement efforts in Oconee County.”

The Association provides aggressive advocacy using the strong unified voice of our 46 Sheriffs. The Association itself is 100 years old and is a key player in shaping state policy on public safety and crime prevention, as well as providing critical training to Sheriffs’ teams and education to member citizen/businesses.

Individuals that are interested in joining but do not receive a membership appeal and would like further information are encouraged to contact the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association by mail at 112 Westpark Boulevard in Columbia, South Carolina, 29210, by phone at 803-772-1101, or online at www.sheriffsc.com

Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw Releases New Vision and Mission Statement for the Sheriff’s Office

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw released a new mission and vision statement today for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. In an e-mail to the men and women of the office, the Sheriff asked everyone to “keep this in your work ethic and apply it to everything we do. These new statements should be spoken at every unit/divisional meeting as a reminder of our high standards and expectations.”

The Sheriff also challenged employees of the department to “continue to search for the most professional and innovative ways to do our jobs.”

“As we look to the future, we must remember how important our citizens and communities are to our success.” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “It is important for us to have a mission and a vision. My employees know the expectations and our citizens know the high standards of professional accountability we place upon ourselves.”

The mission and vision statements are as follows:

Mission Statement

The men and women of the Sheriff’s Office are committed to making Oconee County a safer place to live, work, and play. All members of our agency will employ effective Community Policing strategies, with a focus on solving problems that lead to crimes in our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces. We will strive to improve the quality of life for all of our citizens. This mission will be accomplished by building a partnership with the community we serve, maintaining high standards of accountability, and proactively but fairly enforcing our laws. We are dedicated to building a strong Oconee by being united with our community.

Vision Statement

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office: Building Partnerships to Promote a Safer Community

A Time Change for the Meeting between Sheriff Crenshaw and the Residents of Walhalla

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)—————Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw has announced a time change for the meeting with residents of the city of Walhalla concerning his plans for a new detention center. The meeting will be held on Tuesday night, March 12th at the Walhalla Depot and will begin at 6:30pm instead of the 7:30pm time previously announced.

As mentioned a few days ago, during this public meeting, Sheriff Crenshaw will present his proposal for the location of a new detention center, with an aerial drawing that will show how the proposed building will be positioned between the current location of the Sheriff’s Office and the cemetery.

All residents of the city of Walhalla are encouraged to attend.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Deputies Make Meth Arrests on Traffic Stops

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————Oconee County Sheriff’s Deputies have recently made arrests for methamphetamines during traffic stops in the county.

During the early morning hours of February 25th, 30 year old Derek Lloyd Smith of Walhalla was arrested on multiple charges, including trafficking methamphetamines, after a deputy discovered that his red Ford pickup had no tags lights. After failing to pull over for a blue light and sirens, Smith led two deputies on a chase that eventually ended at the intersection of Return Church Road at Steve Nix Road. According to deputies, the suspect threw something from the truck during the chase, which turned out to be a bag of a white crystal like substance weighing over 29.2 grams at the bridge on Return Church Road at South Radio Station Road.

Smith plead guilty to charges of Distribution of Methamphetamine – 1st Offense and received a sentence of 5 years suspended with time served and 3 years probation.

A second recent arrest occurred during the morning of March 2nd, after a deputy was dispatched to the area of Davis Mill Road near Ravenel Elementary School in reference to a suspicious vehicle, which was stopped in the middle of the roadway. After finding the driver slumped over the steering wheel and asking if there were any weapons in the car, the driver got out of the vehicle, holding a small tin container. After giving the container to the deputy, a baggy was found upon opening the container, which contained a crystal like substance. The baggy was believed to contain a quantity of methamphetamine. A black pouch was also discovered in a search under the seat, which contained other baggies containing a similar substance, plus a weapon was found. The approximate weight of the crystal like substances was 25.66 grams. 52 year old Richard Estee Nicholson of Walhalla was arrested on charges of Trafficking Methamphetamine and Unlawful Carry of a Firearm.

Nicholson pled guilty to Possession of Methamphetamine and to Unlawful Carrying of a Pistol. He received credit for 42 days of time served.

“I appreciate the efforts of the deputies and their commitment to continue our war on drugs in the county,” according to Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “The training they have received paid off in getting more drugs off our streets.”

Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw to Address Walhalla Residents on Detention Center Plans

By:Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)—————Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw has announced that he will be addressing the citizens of Walhalla concerning a new detention center facility for Oconee County at a public meeting. The meeting will be held on Tuesday night, March 12th at the Walhalla Depot and will begin at 7:30pm.

During this public meeting, Sheriff Crenshaw will present his proposal for the location of a new detention center, with an aerial drawing that will show how the proposed building will be positioned between the current location of the Sheriff’s Office and the cemetery.

“I understand the concerns of area residents.” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “I would like to discuss this proposal before going forward with the plan.”

All residents of the city of Walhalla are encouraged to attend.