Deal struck to keep deputies patrolling Pendleton

After more than two and a half hours behind closed doors, Pendleton town officials and the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office have struck a tentative deal to keep deputies patrolling the town.

Pendleton, a town of 2,800 in the north end of Anderson County, does not have its own police force. The town pays $319,000 a year to the sheriff’s office in exchange for one deputy working in the town at all times.

A dedicated deputy works the town but on nights and weekends, a nearby patrolling deputy will take over responsibility.

The town had requested as part of a proposed contract that whoever is patrolling Pendleton stay solely in the town limits, removing the exception that the deputy could assist for certain major crimes just outside the town borders.

Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper said Pendleton had agreed to go back to the exemptions but said the on-duty deputy rarely has cause to leave the town.

The sheriff’s office and the town are operating on a month-to-month extension of an old contract that covered from July 2012 to June 30, 2013, said town manager Steve Miller.

Miller said he would not be able to tell all of what happened behind closed doors but he said the broad issues were the cost for the town and the amount of coverage the town receives.

“I think both sides want to feel like we’re paying our fair share, we get the patrolling we need and the sheriff still has the flexibility he needs elsewhere,” Miller said.

He said the lengthy Tuesday night closed-door meeting — which involved lawyers, town council members, Skipper and leaders of the sheriff’s office — was productive and now lawyers will be drafting new language that would allow deputies to leave the town to respond to serious safety threats nearby.

Miller said there is no date he’s expecting to have the new contracts signed by but a new contract shouldn’t be an issue because the same patrolling has been constant for years and the month-to-month extensions will keep the patrols unchanged.

Town council members have flirted with the idea of creating a police force or working with some other agency, such as the Clemson Police Department. Miller said the cost would be high to establish a police force, requiring about five patrol officers and a supervisor just to provide for one officer at all times because of alternating shifts. He said there would be significant jurisdictional issues if an agency other than the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office were to provide policing.

Miller said negiotiations between the sheriff’s office and the city should not affect the town.

“There is no difference in the level of service we’ve gotten,” he said. “All in all, it’s a pretty quiet town.”

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