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Lost Generation: Sheriff’s office says numbers are troubling, but incomplete

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

“We can’t just discount it, and we’re not,” said Assistant Sheriff Carter Weaver.

But the sheriff’s office is also taking issue with a report from the USC Institute of Public Service and Policy Research that says public safety is among the factors causing young people to move from Georgetown County.

That is one of several factors that researchers say led to a nearly 12 percent drop in the number of residents ages 20 to 44 between 2000 and 2010. And the study found that there are large differences in how safe county residents feel, with younger, low income and rural residents feeling less safe than those who are older, have higher incomes and who live on Waccamaw Neck.

There is a similar disparity in how those groups view the quality of police protection, according to the study.

“It’s a perception that we need to take very seriously,” Weaver said. Although Sheriff Lane Cribb said he was not aware of the results, Weaver said he has reviewed them with Sel Hemingway, the county administrator.

For the sheriff’s office, “it’s useless,” Weaver said.

A range of factors need to be considered when surveying people about law enforcement, he said, including specific details about what sort of interaction the respondents have had with police, Weaver said.

The USC study didn’t do that because that wasn’t their goal.

“We would love for USC to partner with us and do a study,” Weaver said.

That kind of study is one the sheriff’s office plans anyway as part of its accreditation from the S.C. Law Enforcement Association, he said.

While rural residents say they feel less safe, according to the study, Weaver notes that there is more crime on Waccamaw Neck, which has more people. “We’re confused,” Weaver said.

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