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A blessing in disguise 
web posted January 7, 2006

OPINION – The recent announcement that Edgefield County Sheriff Adell Dobey was assuming command of the Johnston Police Department is a blessing in disguise for the town. The Johnston Police Department has been in a state of disarray for months with Police Chief Butch Easler under investigation for perjury and violation of a person’s civil rights. He is presently still on administrative leave with pay until the investigation is over or the matter is resolved in court.

An agreement reached between the Sheriff, his Office, and the Town of Johnston that places Sheriff Dobey at the helm for both the Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Johnston’s Police Department for administrative responsibilities. With the training, experience, and forward-thinking approach to law enforcement Sheriff Dobey brought to the county we have no doubt the values will be ingrained in the Johnston Police Officers. That is never a bad thing.

There are hurdles to clear however.

The Johnston Police force has two openings, as does the Sheriff’s Office. There are applicants currently under review by the Johnston Town Council to fill one, if not two, of the Johnston positions. We would hope the council would seek the wisdom of Sheriff Dobey during their review period of the candidates. Nevertheless, even if two are hired “rookies” still have to team up with a fully certified officer for training and training takes time.

Sheriff Dobey, who is nationally recognized by law enforcement agencies and the FBI for training, achievements, and awards brings a wealth of leadership and knowledge the town could never afford to supply to run the department. That will translate into better officers for local public safety in Johnston. Over the last five years Sheriff Dobey has assembled the finest collection of investigators and deputies the county has ever known and accomplished this within existing budget restraints placed by the county council.

That is just another added bonus for the town.

The transfer of power is temporary until the investigation involving Chief Easler is finished, however, one thing will be obvious. Sheriff Dobey will no doubt leave the Johnston Police Department in far better shape than when he took over.

It was also proper the town ask for his help. Constitutionally speaking, Sheriff Dobey could step in and seize control if the department fell below what he considered proper manpower or administration. The sheriff is the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the county and he is free to exercise that authority as he sees fit.

It is a good thing Mayor Dean Campbell, the Town Council, and the Johnston Police Department recognized that a ship without a captain would drift off course with no sails. With Sheriff Dobey at the helm, we feel certain the sails will again be hoisted and the ship brought back on track.

We just hope the stinginess of the county council in funding road patrol deputies does not create longer response times for county calls during this period. Perhaps the council should look at what a rather mundane problem is creating for the Sheriff. Imagine if it were a major event. Those extra four to six deputies would make a major difference.

As budget talks begin with the new year we hope the county council will address bringing the Sheriff’s Office up to date in the number of personnel. The council, after all, holds the purse strings.


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