Sheriff L.C. Knight, running for reelection, sat down with Patch and concerned voters Thursday at .
Coffee with the Candidates is 4:30 p.m. Thursdays.
The next Coffee with the Candidates is 4:30 p.m. May 17 at Coastal Coffee and features Jordan Bryngelson, running for S.C. House District 97.
Here is a recap of Thursday's conversation with Knight:
Q: Can you better explain your position on the lack of SWAT team in the county?
The numbers I gave during the debate were not made up. It's $67,660 the first year before purchasing the first bullet or any equipment. That's just for the training. I've reached out to Charleston County Sheriff's Office and they reminded me that they have a grant for their SWAT team. That grant requires their team to be multi-jurisdictional. They not only want to help, but they have to help. I'd love to have it but I'm saying Dorchester County can't afford it right now.
Q: What is the biggest challenge the department faces?
We have several. The No. 1 priority right now is the jail. We are also manpower short. Council hasn't been able to budget me any new men. Any new men I've acquired have all come from grants. My opponent wants to have saturation teams throughout the county, but with our manpower so small, that won't work here.
Q: You said you needed more manpower but your budget also has returned money to the county. Why can't you use that surplus for more manpower?
I have to have the budget for more manpower approved by county council. If those line items are not approved, I can't simply move the money over. Every year I put in for more men, and I put in for it again this year. I bet you I won't get any.
Q: Is there a way to save money by combining sheriff services with EMS or other county services?
No. You can make them smaller and make me bigger, but what we can combine we have, like dispatch.
Q: There are a lot of public safety concerns in the community right now. What can the public do to stay informed and protect itself?
We have stepped up patrolling and I'd like to see more public education. The best way to stay informed and work with the Sheriff's Office is to create a Crime Watch for your neighborhood. The neighborhoods need to stay involved with the crime Watch. It will give you briefs on all the information and tools for staying safe.
Q: Since taking office, has crime gone up or down?
Violent crime is down but break-ins are up. But I don't really base success on those numbers. If I don't get many calls with people fussing, I must be doing what's right. If they're calling me, I know we've got a problem.
Q: What about crime mapping online, like what North Charleston Police Department offers?
Sure, but those things cost money. Just show me where the money is coming from.
Q: Would you be interested in a referendum to help ease the Sheriff's Office budgetary woes?
I'd be open to it but I think that has to come from the citizens.
Q: What was the biggest learning curve when you took office?
I had never worked with a budget before, even when I was with SLED. I was an economics major, so I understood it and I think I've been successful with it.