UNION COUNTY — Citing the successes of his office in fighting crime over the past seven years Union County Sheriff David Taylor announced this week that he will seek the Democratic nomination for a third term as sheriff.
In a press release announcing his intention to reelection, Taylor pointed out that when he ran for sheriff in 2008, his mission was to “change the direction of law enforcement in Union County and bring it into the 21st century.” Taylor said that in that campaign he set “important goals that we want the Sheriff’s Office not only to reach but maintain for the future.” He said that many of those goals have been accomplished over the past seven years, but that “even so, today there are more challenges that we face for the future.”
Taylor outlined a number of the accomplishments of his office over the past seven years including crime prevention and law enforcement.
“When I took office in 2009 the drug problem in Union County was rampant, particularly drug trafficking,” Taylor said. “Since then we have arrested 1,934 people on drug charges alone as of December 2015 and seized $215,549 in drug money,” Taylor said. “These arrests also resulted in 34 federal indictments. We have been able to shut down several major drug suppliers that were bringing drugs into Union County from as far away as Mexico.”
Taylor said that during the past seven years “we have increased our visibility by putting investigators on shifts during peak hours of service to help cover calls and patrol needed areas.”
Gangs and the violence they cause has also been an area Taylor said his office has focused on successfully in the past seven years.
“We have identified a gang violence problem in Union County that we continue to work on the local level as well as Upstate region,” Taylor said. “We have specifically assigned a deputy to the Federal Upstate Gang Unit task force, where he has been a part of 215 federal indictments and was named the South Carolina Gang Investigator of the Year for 2014.”
In addition to fighting gang and drug activity, Taylor said he has also emphasized preventing such criminality by working with the youth of the community to help them avoid making bad life decisions.
“We made a commitment to work with our youth and we have done that by going into all of our schools and warning children of the dangers of drugs and how important it is not to have criminal records,” Taylor said.
Protecting Union County residents, especially the elderly, from scam artists has also been priority of the Sheriff’s Office over the past seven years.
“One of the most important accomplishments was fulfilling our pledge to protect our senior citizens,” Taylor said. “We are living in a society where our elderly are constantly under attack by fraud, scams, and people going door-to-door. We have worked diligently with our local and state-wide media circuits to keep our community abreast of any new scams or threats.”
It takes money to fight drug and gang activity and scam artists and other criminals and to carry out the other duties the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for. To do that, Taylor said that he has worked over the past seven years to secure more than a million in funding in funding for the Sheriff’s Office and the other county agencies he is responsible for.
“We have actively sought federal, state and local grants to help the Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management and CrimeStoppers,” Taylor said. “All of these grants are non-matching funds for Union County. The Sheriff’s Office has obtained nearly $280,000 in grant money over the past seven years while Emergency Management received $349,000. The Union County E-911 center received $770,000 from reimbursement funds.”
During the past seven years, Taylor said he has also taken steps to improve safety for both deputies and the public.
“We have increased more safety for our officers and for the public by providing TASER and body worn-cameras,” Taylor said. “We established a policy and procedure manual for the safety of our deputies as well as the safety of the general public. When I took office there was no policy manual. We now have one that continues to be updated as we add TASER policies, body-worn camera policies and the constantly changing Criminal Domestic Laws.
“We have been able to access a much needed Employee Assistance program,” he said. “In 2011, we had an officer involved shooting where this type of program was very beneficial in offering counseling not only to that deputy but to our department as well.”
As part of his efforts to bring county law enforcement into the 21st century, Taylor has also emphasized technology.
“Upon taking office we aggressively searched for new technologies used by other agencies that would improve our abilities in the Sheriff’s Office, Jail and 911, while keeping our citizens better aware,” Taylor said. “We installed new user friendly software for the Sheriff’s Office and Jail Division to improve record keeping and investigative abilities.
“We created a Sheriff’s Office Facebook page with nearly 3,000 followers that allows us the ability to update the public of crimes happening in our area,” he said. “We have a new Emergency Management Division app and Facebook page of about 1,200 followers. We created a user friendly Sheriff’s Office website that allows the public to see the Sex Offender Registry, current jail inmates and links to other important law enforcement resources.”
Training and the rejuvenation of a crime-fighting program were also part of Taylor’s emphasis on the technological aspects of law enforcement.
“We installed a training simulator with three training lab master instructors who can operate the interactive simulation system,” Taylor said. “This simulator can produce any environment, lighting conditions and repeatable training scenarios that are court defensible and an acceptable evaluation tool.
“We have rejuvenated the stagnant CrimeStoppers program and transformed it to an active crime-fighting tool that has received 1,828 tips leading to 538 arrests and has paid out approximately $27,431.00 in rewards,” he said.
As sheriff, Taylor is also responsible for the Union County Jail and he said he has worked to improve it over the past seven years.
“We took over a county jail facility that was below standard conditions of the South Carolina Department of Correction Inspectors, had no commissary, no in-house medical service or mental health provider,” Taylor said. “We have upgraded the facility and added much needed technology to better operate the facility and bring it up to standards, having received a 98 score from our last inspection.
“We, along with the support of county council, have been able to make physical improvements to the jail by installing a new roof, a new HVAC system, ventilation system, upgrades to showers and water supply lines, and updated to a gas-powered, industrial strength washer and dryer,” he said. “We have installed technology that allows us the ability to fingerprint an individual and identify them within a few seconds after submitting their prints to SLED and the FBI.”
As sheriff, Taylor is also responsible for Emergency Management and 911 and has worked to improve those divsions of his office as well.
“In the fall of 2009, county council gave the responsibility of Emergency Management and 911 to me, without any salary increase,” Taylor said. “I was willing to do that because I wanted to bring unity to all public safety entities that use 911. This has not come without growing pains but has been an opportunity to bring all emergency services together.
“Through this process, we have been able to make major upgrades and improvements in the 911 center and operations, he said. “We were able to remodel and update the 911 operations area with Computer Aided Dispatch, newer consoles, more acoustic walls, and new laptop computers through grant funding and reimbursed funding that was not an added burden to the taxpayers.”
Taylor pointed out that when he took over responsibility for the 911 system there had been “no progress to move forward to comply with Narrowbanding, which was federally mandated. We had to move quick to put together a leading team to help comply with this expensive mandate which included modifying all of our federal licenses for all emergency services mandate and upgrading our radio system with six satellite receiver sites.”
The problem of violence including terrorism and mass shootings is another area that Taylor said he has had to address during his terms in office.
“As a result of the deadly violence we face today in our country, with domestic terror and workplace killings to name just a couple of those dangers, we have put together a Special Emergency Response Team to be prepared in the event of terror threats and active shooter situations in the workplace, schools and churches,” Taylor said. “In my platform, I made it known that I would be aggressive when protecting our community from the type of tragedy that occurred during the Charleston massacre last year. Last year, we put together a PowerPoint presentation for churches and work places to help prepare them in cases of an active shooter event.
“Our goal is to be proactive law enforcement and not just a reactive agency,” he said. “We want to prevent tragic events before they occur in our county. We also are doing this through crime prevention programs and individuals who seek a residential safety plan.”
In announcing his bid for reelection, Taylor emphasized the experience he has gained over the years, experience that he said matters when overseeing a law enforcement agency like the Sheriff’s Office.
“My past experience as a city police officer, a jailer, a dispatcher, a deputy, a criminal investigator, and a DARE officer has given me firsthand knowledge of the needs to the people who now hold those jobs,” Taylor said. “I’m not a “behind the desk Sheriff,” and I actively assist my deputies from the start of the initial call through the prosecution of the case in court. I have testified in Magistrate Court, State Court, and Federal Court cases and can help my staff prepare as they do so themselves. I have attended and graduated the FBI National Academy. This experience provided me with new ideas and cost effective methods to stay abreast of the latest developments in law enforcement.”
Taylor said that as sheriff “I will focus equally on all residents and ares of Union County. I also serve as sheriff to all towns and municipalities that ask for my or my department’s assistance with their needs. And despite a county-wide budget cut of 10 percent across the board last year, which cost our department two deputy positions, two jailer positions and one dispatcher, we have proved in the county that we can work together and accomplish goals.”
Looking ahead, Taylor said “in the next four years we will continue to face challenges, such as Next Generation 911 and other mandated upgrades. I will continue striving to make this department better as well as making our county a better place to live.”
Taylor also emphasized the importance of moving forward and continuing to build on the successes of the past seven years.
“It is time to move on from sour grapes and past elections and do what is best for all Union County residents,” Taylor said. “As election time draws near, citizens need to ask themselves one simple question: Do you want law enforcement to continue to move forward, as it has the past seven years, or do you want to go back to the ‘good ol’ boy’ system of the past?
“Please consider that simple question when you go to the polls to Re-Elect David H. Taylor as your Sheriff for the next four years,” he said. “I am experienced and I have delivered on my campaign promises to the best of my ability, and will continue to do so in the future. I am asking for your prayers and continued support to Re-Elect David H. Taylor, Democratic Candidate for Sheriff of Union County.”
Taylor and his wife Betty Jo are the parents of four children and the grandparents of eight grandchildren. They attend West Springs Baptist Church and Foster’s Chapel United Methodist Church.
Taylor is being challenged for the Office of Sheriff by Republican Jeff Bailey.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or email@example.com.