New sheriff won't enter department without SLED sweep - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

New sheriff won't enter department without SLED sweep

Jim Matthews Jim Matthews
Stephen McCaskill (Source: Kershaw County Sheriff's Office) Stephen McCaskill (Source: Kershaw County Sheriff's Office)
Packed house at Matthews's swearing-in ceremony at Camden Baptist Church. His new deputies sit on the front row. (Source: Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield) Packed house at Matthews's swearing-in ceremony at Camden Baptist Church. His new deputies sit on the front row. (Source: Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield)

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

LUGOFF, SC (WIS) - Kershaw County's new sheriff has asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to sweep the department before he even steps into the building.

Jim Matthews officially became sheriff of Kershaw County on January 1, but has not even stepped inside his office yet.

Matthews says he has asked SLED to come in and sweep the building on Ridgeway Road before he moves in. Matthews says he has questions about how business was being run at the department and if there was any wrong doing he does not want to be connected to it. 

Matthews' his official swearing-in ceremony was taking place Tuesday at noon. He takes over office from Stephen McCaskill who had been sheriff for 16 years. 

Until the SLED sweep is complete, Matthews says he'll be conducting business from a mobile unit in front of the sheriff's office. "They put their command post out front so we'll have a base to work out of," said Matthews.

Matthews is quite open about the fact he wants to change things, from fitness standards for his deputies to the way investigations are handled. He says there's a chance finances and evidence were not always handled properly so he's not taking any chances.

Matthews asked the state agency to do an audit of expenses and inventory before he sets up shop. "I've been in one section [of the building] to get keys to a car and a weapon, pretty much it," said Matthews. "[Staying away] protects everybody, eliminates the possibility somebody could say 'it was fine when I left it, but it got messed up when the sheriff came in.'"

SLED says they offer the service to incoming law enforcement by request. They look at everything from how seized drug money is spent to how evidence is handled.
     
Matthews says he hopes the process will take less than a week. He says he wants a to start with a clean slate and hopes that he will walk in to a clean department.

He also said it remains to be seen if SLED will find anything.

We called former Sheriff Steve McCaskill, who retired this week after 16 years, for comment on the sweep. So far he has not responded.
     
As Matthews was sworn in on Tuesday, he was supported by sheriffs and police chiefs from Darlington County to Lexington to Richland to Sumter. One person we did not see in the packed room was Steve McCaskill.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.

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