Meet the Berkeley County sheriff candidates

  • Tuesday, June 3, 2014

For the first time since winning the office 20 years ago, Sheriff Wayne DeWitt will face two opponents for the Republican nomination to hold his seat June 10.

In 1994, DeWitt ran and won against two other Republicans for the nomination. He later won in the general against a Democratic opponent. Since those elections, he has run unopposed in both primaries and general elections.

He is being challenged by two police officers: Brian Adams and Matt Smoak.

Brian Adams

Adams is a married father of four. He first worked as an officer with City of Goose Creek until 1996. Since that time he has worked in the North Charleston Police Department.

Why are you running?

I am running because, well, honestly when I was a little kid I always wanted to be sheriff. As I was looking at the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office, I see that we’re wasting money and services not provided, and I figured this was the perfect opportunity for me to get involved.

Why should voters vote for you?

I have 23 years of law enforcement experience. I’ve been working within an accredited department for the last 12 years so I know what it takes to be an accredited department. I want to get more deputies back on the road. I want to work with the communities. I want a quarterly community forum. I also want to start a community service officer program to benefit the future of the sheriff’s office and building on top of the deputies. They’re going to be your feeder source for the sheriff’s office.

What is the biggest problem in Berkeley County and how can it be solved?

The biggest problem is we have to get more deputies on the road. They’re just mismanaged. They’re top heavy. There’s several administrative positions that are removed from the road and that takes away from us as well. The next thing I noticed was the waste of money, especially in overtime budget. The turnover rate is high for the detention center. The fuel consumption by civilians is way too high. The training cost is unreal because nobody stays in the detention center.

Wayne DeWitt

DeWitt attended the Citadel and is a graduate of the S. C. Criminal Justice Academy and National Sheriff’s Institute. He previously worked for the Holly Hill Police Department, the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office and as Controlled Substance Investigator at the Medical University of South Carolina. He has been married to Amelia Henderson DeWitt of Moncks Corner for 22 years.

Why are you seeking a sixth term?

Law enforcement is a passion of mine. Berkeley County is my passion. I’m trying to take care of the citizens. I fully recognize and understand the fact that the sheriff’s office does not belong to Wayne DeWitt, it belongs to the citizens. And they have trusted me to handle the office for five terms.

Why should voters vote for you?

I have a greater knowledge of the actual responsibilities of the office. I’ve got 35 years experience involved in the office. It’s different than a police department. A sheriff’s office has a lot of state-mandated statutes to take care of. I have a greater understanding of what a sheriff’s office is all about. I have the experience.

What is the biggest problem in Berkeley County and how can it be solved?

I wouldn’t call it a problem, but I put it to you this way: we’re the fastest growing county in South Carolina. The population boom will be a problem we have to confront to begin with. When you have more people you have more crime. We have a great team in place with a lot of law enforcement experience. We ask for deputy sheriffs every year in the budget. We have not gotten any but what we try to do is put people out in the communities and have more visibility.

Matt Smoak

Smoak is a married father of three and a Lowcountry native. In 2007, Smoak joined the Charleston Police Department. As a motor officer, he has worked Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Summerville Police Department, North Charleston Police Department, S.C. Highway Patrol and the U.S. Secret Service.

Why are you running?

There needs to be a change in Berkeley County. The current sheriff has gotten complacent with trying to contain the growth the county has. I don’t feel like his department is growing like it should. I also want deputies in the area where they aren’t normally, like Daniel Island. They don’t feel like their tax dollars are being utilized.

Why should voters vote for you?

I’m not lazy. I’m very high strung. I have a desire to, when I start a project, to finish it. I have a good grasp of how public safety should be run. I want to bring the sheriff’s department and the community more in line with one another. I want to have the deputies more involved, and I don’t believe that’s been an issue the current sheriff has been dealing with.

What is the biggest problem in Berkeley County and how can it be solved?

The biggest problem that they’re facing right now is the continued growth within the county and the agency not keeping up with that growth. They’re understaffed, and understaffed at the detention center. I believe that the collisions and other violent crimes are high from lack of enforcement, and enforcement is lacking due to them being understaffed. The department is top heavy. There needs to be a reallocation of manpower and there needs to be more accountability within the department.

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