Controversial police ordinance fizzles

It was standing room only at Tuesday night's county council meeting.

KERSHAW COUNTY (WACH)-- A controversial law enforcement proposal has fizzled for now in Kershaw County.

County council did not approve the first reading of an ordinance that would create a new county police department and effectively dismantle the sheriff's office.

A crowd of fired up residents packed Tuesday night's council chambers to voice their opinions on the proposal.

Resident Tim Taylor was one of 13 people who spoke against it during the meeting.

"County council wanted to get us to take away our own right to vote for who's going to be in charge of our law enforcement here, and they did it for the wrong reasons," said Taylor.

After hearing from the speakers, council decided to table the ordinance. If it passed three council readings, it would have then gone on the November ballot, and voters would have the final say.

Sheriff Jim Matthews, who would have lost most of his authority in the county if the measure was eventually approved, is relieved council listened to the public.

"The public is opposed to this. They don't want to lose their right to vote for sheriff," said Matthews.

While council conceded the public was against the idea, some members are disappointed so many people didn't give it a chance.

"The court of popular opinion has chastised us for doing what you elected us to do," said councilman Tom Gardner after the meeting. "I hope council will continue to look at alternatives to what we are currently doing in county government, and work to give our citizens new ideas that would be progressive for Kershaw County."

Sheriff Matthews spoke to a cheering crowd outside council chambers after council's decision.

He says while he's relieved for the moment, he wouldn't be surprised if council tried to bring up the issue again.

What's do you think about council's decision to not move forward with the ordinance? Post your comments below.