LEXINGTON, S.C. (WACH) - Lewis McCarty was officially sworn in as Lexington County's new sheriff Wednesday in the wake of a ten-count federal indictment against former sheriff James Metts.
McCarty, Gov. Nikki Haley's hand-picked replacement for Metts, retired in 1999 as Metts' second-in-command.
On Wednesday night, he took his oath to serve in front of a Lexington County courtroom overflowing with law enforcement officials from across the state.
"Sheriff Metts and I have been friends for a long time and my heart goes out to him and his family," said McCarty. "I want the people to know they have a professional sheriff's office and it is going to continue to be professional. We're going to serve the people."
Reports indicate McCarty has already cut ties with several key deputies at Metts' former department. However, the long-time lawman was not willing to offer any further details, only saying he has started "reorganizing" the agency.
McCarty, who had to fight back tears a number of times throughout Wednesday night's ceremony, started his law enforcement career as a West Columbia patrolman in 1964. Now he's coming out of retirement to end it by guiding an agency to which he gave 27 years of his life.
"That enthusiasm is going to continue," said McCarty. "We're going to build an organization that is second to none."
How long McCarty will head up that organization is not clear. But, he stresses he is only taking the job on an interim basis and has no plans to run for the office. A special election will have to be called to elect a permanent sheriff.