Sumter Co. Sheriff's Office takes over detention center

Updated: Sep. 14, 2017 at 9:32 AM EDT
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SUMTER, SC (WIS) - After 42 years, the Sumter County Sheriff's Office once again runs the detention center.

On Wednesday, the sheriff's office announced it assumed control of the Sumter-Lee Regional Detention Center via Facebook post. Since 1975, the detention center had been under control of the Sumter County Council. It was one of the few county jails in South Carolina that was not under the control of the county sheriff's department.

Sheriff Anthony Dennis requested control of the detention center after administrator Maj. Simon Major resigned in June, after more than 18 years on the job. Dennis immediately sent a letter to the County Council.

Sheriff's Office spokesperson Ken Bell tells WIS the previous administration of the detention center is under investigation by SLED.  Sheriff Dennis requested a forensic audit of the detention center before taking over.

On Tuesday, the County Council voted at a third and final reading to transfer jail operations to the sheriff's office.

Bell said he tried to research the reason for the County Council taking control of the jail from the sheriff's office back in 1975 but found no information.

"We really don't know why they took it," Bell said.

Sheriff Dennis met with employees Wednesday to discuss the upcoming changes and swear them in. He plans to do the same with remaining staff on Friday. There are presently 62 sworn officers at the detention center and two civilian positions. The sheriff's office is looking to fill another 20 openings.

The decision will combine costs for training and operations. Bell said the savings will be "quite substantial." Lee County also provides funding for the facility since it houses detainees arrested in Lee County.

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