Michael Belk, Chris Blevins, Tony Breeden, Heath Clevenger, and Beth Bryant Tolson are running in the Republican primary for York County Sheriff on June 11.

The Fort Mill Sun asked each candidate about the top three issues they are emphasizing in the race for sheriff. They were given no restriction on the length of their answers.

Below are the other candidates’ responses:

Beth Bryant Tolson

Mental Health. Domestic Violence. Fentanyl  Crisis.

Tony Breeden

“To be a Constitutional Sheriff and remain committed to it and the citizens of York County and not outside agencies

“Public Safety- Focusing on Violent Crime, drug trafficking and Property crimes. Utilizing data driven module such as Compstat or Prostar to focus enforcement and investigation efforts. 

“Continue to strengthen relationships within the County and other jurisdictions to improve the safety and security of its citizens. “

Heath Clevenger

“My top three issues presented in my campaign are Intelligence-led Policing, Continued Community Relationship Building, and Support of the Deputies and Detention Staff.

“Intelligence-led policing is gathering information from deputies, the community, and suspects during interviews, and electronic means. Then we must evaluate the best way to deploy the resources that we have directly to the problems. Budgets and resources are limited and we have to be systematic in our approach to make the community safe.

“Continued Community Relations means continuously building relationships with those in the communities across the county. As our communities expand, new leaders will appear, new neighborhoods are built and the Sheriff’s Office needs communication between them and the office. We should know the needs of each community and understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

“Supporting the deputies in their needs past the mental health support they enjoy now. We need to support their families when they experience critical incidents. The significant others and children are affected when they experience a life or death situation. We need to better support their physical fitness. We need to also be sure that we are proficiently training deputies in the critical areas of their job. The demands of this profession are high and they need to be best prepared to handle anything they are expected to tackle.”

Chris Blevins

“Opioid and Fentanyl issues.  Deputies and all first responder categories respond to numerous overdoses each week.  This issue has affected several families in our community.  I plan to meet with the governing board of the York County Multijurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit to discuss ways to increase arrests and convictions.  I also plan to strengthen or add more personnel to the YCMJDEU by using free resources from State (SLED) and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies (DEA, HIS, ATF, and FBI). I also plan to increase the number of task force officers and apply for grants to assist with the Opioid/Fentanyl issues.  Another closely linked topic I plan to address is Human trafficking through increased operations and investigations.  Under my leadership, in the past, I have conducted operations at Fort Mill Hotels where Special Operation units and YCMJDEU worked together, resulting in drug arrests, weapons seizures, and recovery of persons who were sex trafficked. 

“Proactive Policing at the patrol deputy level.  I am dedicated to offering training and support for deputies to be out in communities proactively policing and making cases.  As the Fort Mill area continues to grow in population density, the number of deputies assigned should increase also.  This increase in deputies will allow for a greater presence proactively patrolling the streets.  This can be accomplished through a number of different avenues, but I am committed to searching out grant funding to increase the number of deputies on the road.  While conducting proactive policing, deputies will strive to deliver exceptional customer service to every person who interacts with the York County Sheriff’s Office. I plan to make the YCSO an exciting place to work, supporting deputies, encouraging growth and development, and, most importantly, treating employees fairly. Employees are the number one resource that the YCSO has, and if they are treated well, then they will perform well.  This positive reinforcement will translate to the community because the employees are happy to serve the citizens of York County. 

See also  Guide to York County Sheriff’s Race & What the 5 Candidates are Saying

“Constitutional Carry- Recently, the State Legislature passed H. 3594, the Constitutional Carry Bill, which allows persons not prohibited from possessing a firearm to openly or concealed carry a firearm without training or a Concealed Weapons Permit.  I am not opposed to the bill. However, I would like to provide citizens with further guidance about open carry.  I would accomplish this through YSCO-sponsored training to help citizens better understand the responsibility of open carry. 

Michael Belk

“Fighting back against the effects of open borders: Too many families have been impacted by the surging availability of Fentanyl and Fentanyl-laced drugs. Overdoses are plaguing our streets and straining our local and county’s public safety resources. As Sheriff, our Office will expand and strengthen the current Multi-jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit to allow for multiple complex investigations without limiting a response to daily quality of life issues in York County. This expansion will work towards effectively stopping the trafficking and production of fentanyl in our community. We will also expand working agreements and create Task Force Officers with Federal partners like DEA and ATF to allow for broader investigations and federal prosecutorial options for offenders. We will follow and enforce the laws of the State of South Carolina, and I will continue to strengthen relationships with State and Federal partners in the pursuit of justice and safety for the citizens of York County.

“Recruiting and retention: Deputies and staff are fully dedicated to our communities, and their dedication should be returned through state-of-the-art equipment, increased salaries and benefits, and improved employee retention rates. Recruiting and retention is a challenge for all law enforcement agencies. I believe we should continue efforts to find new and creative ways to not only recruit the most qualified candidates, but to retain our team of professionals at the York County Sheriff’s Office. Providing a great place to work by offering state-of-the-art equipment, superior training, competitive salaries and health and wellness benefits will ensure that our team continues to thrive, giving our best service to the citizens of York County.

“Community engagement: Our department should collaborate with community partners to tackle problems that impact us countywide – like school safety and homelessness. As Sheriff I will continue to work with local schools and districts to ensure that we have SROs in every school. Our SROs will be well trained, have the latest equipment, will be engaged with the students and staff and able to swiftly mitigate potential issues in any school. Homelessness is a growing issue in York County and requires a combination of approach and collaboration with multiple partners.”

Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...

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