Faile: Let’s set record straight on IL town costs

-A A +A

Guest columnist Barry Faile is sheriff of Lancaster County.

Much has been spoken and written about the future of law enforcement in Indian Land if the incorporation effort is successful.
I want to share a few comments to set the record straight.
Section 23-13-70 of the S.C. Code of Laws sets out the responsibilities of deputy sheriffs in our state: “The deputy sheriffs shall patrol the entire county at least twice weekly by sections assigned to each by the sheriff, remaining on duty at night when occasion and circumstances suggest the propriety thereof to prevent or detect crime or to make an arrest.”
This archaic statute sets a pretty low standard for law enforcement, one that is unrealistic in modern times.
Our county, particularly the north end, has grown, and Lancaster County Council has responded by funding law enforcement services at a level that ensures coverage for all areas of the county by multiple deputies and supervisors on all shifts, with quick response times to calls for service. Crime is down in Lancaster County.
These services come with a high cost for personnel and equipment. If Indian Land incorporates, somebody must pay for this law enforcement protection in what will be a town densely populated by residential developments, businesses and industry.
The Indian Land incorporators were required to convince both the Joint Legislative Committee on Municipal Incorporation and the secretary of state that they can provide, either directly or indirectly, a level of law enforcement for the proposed town substantially similar to what exists in the area today.
The town can create and fund its own police department, or it can contract with Lancaster County and the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services. Clearly, it will cost the town a substantial sum to provide law enforcement services to its citizens. 
Several months ago, I was asked to provide financial information on the cost of law enforcement services for the Indian Land area, which is our Patrol District 1. The proposed town, now less the small area of the new town of Van Wyck, encompasses just about all of District 1 except the lower end, which is sparsely populated.
We have 14 patrol deputies, four patrol sergeants, one patrol lieutenant, and one investigator assigned to District 1 at a cost for salaries and benefits of $1,346,372.
Policing in what would be a large town would be a different animal, and additional demands and costs would arise. Office space for a substation with full-time administrative staff would be necessary. The S.C. Highway Patrol would not work traffic accidents in the town, and our deputies would be called upon for traffic control, traffic law enforcement and collision investigations.
Additional resources would be needed for criminal and drug investigations. Deputies would be expected at government meetings and community events. The town would also have to decide whether it would establish a new municipal court system or send its traffic tickets and arrest warrants through Lancaster County Central Court many miles away. Deputies would be required to provide security for a municipal court.
I determined that an additional 12 patrol deputies, three investigators and two administrative personnel would be necessary to effectively police the new town. The cost for salaries and benefits for these additional positions totals $1,019,078. Other ongoing costs for items including, but not limited to, overtime, training, gasoline, vehicle maintenance, rent, utilities, Internet service and office supplies would be incurred.
A realistic annual budget for the current positions and the additional positions is $2,689,149. This figure does not include initial equipment costs for uniforms, firearms, protective gear, handheld radios and laptop computers, which total $11,900 per officer. It also does not include the cost of fully equipped, marked patrol vehicles, which is $41,000 per officer. The start-up costs for all this equipment for 15 new deputies is $793,500.
If the town of Indian Land neither created its own police department nor reached an agreement with Lancaster County and the sheriff’s office for law enforcement services, County Council would have to decide what to do about my budget and some or all of the 20 deputies currently assigned to District 1. Under that scenario, it is likely the town of Indian Land would not have a level of law enforcement substantially similar to what the area has today. 
Neither I, nor the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, has a dog in the fight over the incorporation of Indian Land. We will provide law enforcement services at the level County Council funds us to provide.
Law enforcement is an expensive business. The numbers in this letter, which are the same numbers I have spoken publicly about many times before, are not contrived. They are real numbers, based upon hours of analysis of our budget and projections of the increased needs associated with incorporation.