Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell is once again being challenged by Darnell “Bubba” Johnson.
The two candidates will be on the ballot in the June 9 Democratic primary. No Republican has filed for the seat.
Ravenell received 83 percent of the vote in the 2016 Democratic primary, defeating Johnson and another challenger.
Johnson also filed to run in the 2012 Democratic primary against Ravenell, who won a special election in January 2011 to complete the term of Larry Williams, who had died in office. Johnson was one of about 200 candidates who were kicked off ballots statewide after a court ruled they had failed to file their paperwork correctly.
Johnson is a local business owner. He has over a decade of experience in law enforcement and is a military veteran.
He is a graduate of Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from Claflin University, and a master’s degree in criminal justice from Columbia College.
Johnson stated he is seeking the office to improve service and leadership in the sheriff’s office.
“Orangeburg County needs a first-in-service sheriff,” he said.
Johnson said crime is out of control in Orangeburg County. He also noted the former deputies who have pleaded guilty to federal crimes.
“I am running for sheriff to rebirth the agency. … You cannot police people when you cannot police your own house,” he said. “The leadership has been compromised.”
Johnson said he has the background for the position.
“My experience in local, state and federal law enforcement has presented me with a great opportunity to learn and understand the concept of community-oriented policing, crime prevention and CompStat policing, which is a crime-reduction tool,” Johnson said.
Johnson also noted his business experience and time served in the military.
“My experience in business has afforded me the opportunity to not only be an out-front leader but has also made me a great steward of finance, which is essential to the budgetary process of running the office of sheriff,” he said.
“My experience as a United States Marine and South Carolina Army National Guardsman is relevant to the position of sheriff because it has established the leadership and discipline component to allow me to bring trust, confidence and fidelity back to the office of sheriff,” he stated.
Johnson believes he is the best candidate for several reasons.
“I have a plan for crime. I am very proactive versus reactive. I am a visionary, multifaceted and not limited. Given my age of 36, my youthful attributes allow me to bridge the gap between the younger and elder generations to forge community relationships between the two,” Johnson said.
Johnson listed several goals he would like to accomplish if elected.
“There is a 30-60-90 day plan that I propose for the sheriff’s office. In that plan I must establish the Office of Personnel and Professional Standards, which will serve as the checks and balances component of the sheriff’s office,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he will revisit policies and procedures to make sure they align with the standards of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which will enhance the overall professional operating standards for the sheriff’s office.
He also said he will implement the “The Sheriff’s Kids” youth program, which will assist the youth with overall development to enhance their abilities to become productive adult citizens while enjoying America’s pastime.
Johnson said there are some changes he would make if elected.
“The first change I would implement is restructuring the chain of command due to it being top heavy, which causes budgetary waste within the agency. I will restructure the patrol zones to create three patrol zone bureaus, which my plan calls for: the Eastern Bureau to be located in Vance, Western Bureau to be located in Neeses and headquarters will serve as Central Bureau in Orangeburg,” Johnson said
“This implementation will allow the sheriff’s office to be very strategic in its operations and will allow me to reallocate the budget so that citizens are awesomely overserved and never underserved,” he said.
Johnson said he also wants to revamp the crime watch groups to gain more community participation, deploy a camera/surveillance program to target vulnerable residential and business communities, create youth-based programs and saturate communities with crime-reduction tools.
Johnson is a member of St. Paul Baptist Church, the S.C. Law Enforcement Officer Association, the National Crime Prevention Association and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. Johnson is also a youth mentor with the Giving a Child a Dream Foundation, and the Community Keys Foundation.
Ravenell, the current sheriff, has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology from Claflin University, and a master’s degree from Troy University in criminal justice.
He said he is seeking re-election for several reasons.
“I’ve been working in law enforcement now for over 32 years, and I’ve been sheriff for over 12 years. My administration here since I’ve taken office has made great strides here at the sheriff’s office and in Orangeburg County,” Ravenell said.
“I’m concerned about Orangeburg County, I’m concerned about the people. This is something that I take seriously, so every morning when I wake up, my mind goes to the point that I have the responsibility over the security of almost 100,000 people,” Ravenell said.
“At this point in my career, and in law enforcement today period, this job is very serious to me, and this position is very serious to me. Most importantly, the people of Orangeburg County are very important to me,” Ravenell said.
Ravenell noted that he has been working with the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office since 1989.
“My whole career has been in Orangeburg County working,” Ravenell said. “I’ve been working for the community basically all of my adult life, and basically before I got into law enforcement.”
“There’s no comparison, and I’m not bashing anybody, but if you look around and check the record, there’s no comparison to anybody else that’s running for sheriff at this point,” Ravenell stated.
He said a sheriff has to be able to work with people.
Ravenell detailed some of the accomplishments he has achieved during his tenure.
“We have created so many different programs,” he said. “We have youth-based programs year-round. Just to name a few, we have the D.A.R.E program, which is a nationally known program. We have Project Stop, where we take our command center out and kids come in, and we educate those kids on things throughout the agency and the community. We do the National Night Out. We do Stop the Violence programs. We have mentoring programs and we have summer youth programs.”
Ravenell said the department has made advances in technology.
“In the past, Orangeburg County’s been behind as far as technology in law enforcement, but at this point, we’re keeping up. All of our deputies have mobile units,” Ravenell said.
“We also do mapping where we can map out where crime is going to happen,” he said. Ravenell also noted that the office has been using the CompStat program for years, and it’s been helpful.
Ravenell said he is also proud of an advisory board made up of students and community leaders, which advises the sheriff’s office.
If re-elected, Ravenell said he has many goals he would like to accomplish.
“My goal is to always get the manpower up,” Ravenell said.
“In our next four years with the men and women here at the sheriff’s office, we’re just looking to expand to do greater things and bring in more programs. We’re always open for advice and different things like that,” Ravenell said.
Ravenell is involved in many community groups and activities, including serving as a board member at Orangeburg Preparatory School, a mentor with the Orangeburg County School District and a member of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Ravenell also serves as the Sergeant at Arms and District Four representative for the South Carolina Sheriff's Association.
“I just want to thank the people of Orangeburg County for the confidence and the trust that they have placed in me and this sheriff’s office for the last 10 or 11 years, and as a county as a whole for the last 30 years,” Ravenell said.
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-596-6530.
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