Lancaster County sheriff faces challenge in re-election bid

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comOctober 12, 2012 

  • Barry Faile Age: 44 Hometown: Lancaster Family: Wife, Crystal Hegler Faile; children, Hunter, 17, Connor and Kelsey, both 14 Education: Lancaster High School Professional experience (all Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office): Chief deputy, January 2005 to December 2008; patrol division commander, October 2000 to December 2004; Multijurisdictional Drug Task Force commander, January 1997 to September 200; investigations, July 1991 to December 1996; patrol division, July 1989 to June 1991 Political Experience: Lancaster County sheriff, 2009 to present ISSUES On crime and violence: “Drugs and gangs are certainly in the forefront for us,” Faile said. The other crimes being committed can be related back to gang-related or drug-related. The Sheriff’s Office has combined resources with the Lancaster Police Department, as well as with state and federal agencies to buffer the manpower the county doesn’t have, Faile said. Working with the State Law Enforcement Division and a multijurisdictional drug task force, the cuonty has made two drug cases, one of which led to 15 gang members receiving indictments in 2011. On funding transparency: “If you go back and look over the last four years, everything is online. Everybody can go see what we spend our money on and how we’ve been budgeted over the past four years,” Faile said. On hiring more officers: “If we have a vacancy, we try to fill that as quick as possible,” but that decision is left up to Lancaster County Council, which provides the funding, he said. Four new officers have been approved for next budget year to staff the sheriff’s office’s new location. The sheriff’s office will move to another building about a half-mile away from its current location on Pageland Highway. The detention center and 911 dispatch will remain in the current building. The new facility will be staffed 24/7, Faile said.
  • Scott Case Age: 47 Hometown: Lancaster Family: Two daughters: Nicole, 19 and Brooke, 13 Education: Lancaster High School (diploma), York Technical College (associate degrees in business and management) Professional Experience: Command staff lieutenant and investigator for the Great Falls Police Department; Certified Law Enforcement Officer- S.C. Criminal Justice Academy; E-5, Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, Satellite Communications, U.S. Navy; Panama Drug Suppression Operations – DEA; NATO soldier in the Bosnia conflict; Operation Desert Storm combat veteran ISSUES On crime and violence: After what he called a recent gang beating at Buford Middle School, Case said “one of the big things I want to do is start a major crime unit. I don’t think we have enough personnel in gang and drug unit. I would like to expand that – not at the expense of tax dollars.” He would look at budget, move things around and have a harder-hitting major crime unit that will work with federal prosecutors and FBI “and get these people.” “They would start thinking twice. If you talk to gangbangers or people that were in that field or in that world, they won’t go to York County and do it because York County will slam them,” Case said. On funding transparency: “I think that we sit down and look at how spending is going on. I would like for them to click online and see where your money is going. Car repair and this is why.” On hiring more officers: “At the rate Lancaster’s going, we have to have more officers on the street. You need to show where you have sat down and really worked on the budget so that you have added one or two officers yourself.”

— Battling the drug trade in Panama and policing the rural streets of Great Falls have taught Lancaster native Scott Case how to do many things.

One skill he hopes will prove the most valuable come November is how to dream big without promising “absolutes.”

On Nov. 6, Lancaster County residents will flock to the polls to pick their next sheriff. Their choices: current Democratic Sheriff Barry Faile, whose father once held the position for 12 years, and Lancaster High School graduate Scott Case, a Republican.

Sandy McGarry, chairwoman for the Lancaster County Republican Party, commended Case for his personable campaign tactics, stating that he’s made himself “a part of the people.”

“Scott’s doing a great job. He has some great ideas,” McGarry said. “Scott has been working his tail off … getting out meeting the people, listening to concerns and addressing them as best he can.”

It hasn’t been an easy task for Case, who McGarry admitted isn’t a county “insider.”

“He doesn’t work for the sheriff’s department. He only has what little information he gets,” she said.

McGarry, who said she hasn’t lived in Lancaster long enough to evaluate Faile’s performance as sheriff, did admit that the Democratic incumbent won’t be an easy opponent to defeat.

“He has many, many, many supporters,” said McGarry, including Democrats and Republicans.

“He is a strong sheriff and he’s going to be tough” to beat,” she said. “I’ve never heard a complaint about him … never.”

Faile’s support base is “broad,” said his brother and campaign manager, Buddy Faile, adding that Faile has built relationships with state and federal agencies.

A rundown of his campaign finances reported to the state ethics commission shows that he’s received contributions from supporters in Lancaster, Rock Hill, Fort Mill and from the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, a professional police organization based in Georgia.

Starting as a patrol officer and working through the ranks of the sheriff’s department, Faile’s amassed enough experience to make him the most qualified for the job, his brother said. He’s taken law enforcement classes ranging from animal fighting to the use of informants.

When the Faile brothers’ father, Willford Faile, was sheriff, Barry Faile would spend afternoons after school at the sheriff’s office, “learning what they do,” Buddy Faile said.

“When it became time for him to take a career path, he knew very early on what he wanted to do,” he said.

But Faile’s popularity and family roots haven’t deterred Case, who spent four years working counter-narcotics in Panama along with the Drug Enforcement Agency after serving five years in the Navy and experiencing combat in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. He also worked as a NATO soldier during the 1995 Bosnia conflict, where he worked in communications.

Beckoning his opponent “to be honest with the people,” Faile said Case, the father of two daughters, once applied for a job at the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office but didn’t clear the background check.

Case admitted that he made “a foolish mistake” almost 20 years ago when he drank a few beers and sat behind the wheel after his going-away party from the Navy. He was caught after leaving the naval base in Mayport, Fla., and charged with driving under the influence.

“It was a mistake and I paid for it,” Case said. “But, now I’m trying to run for office; I’m not trying to hide anything.”

Years later, Case returned to South Carolina, where he received an associate degree in business and another one in management from York Technical College. Now, he works in Great Falls, which he says has prepared him for almost anything.

“In Great Falls … you do it all,” including investigating, serving warrants and even setting up counseling appointments for victims, he said. “We don’t turn it over to anybody; we take care of it ourselves.”

“I’m determined,” he said.

Faile said he’s confident his record as sheriff will speak volumes on Election Day.

More officers are patrolling the county’s streets, Faile said, and partnerships with other agencies have helped “beef up” deputies’ manpower.

Faile first took office in 2009. For the next two years, the county’s number of violent crimes decreased by 20 percent, he said.

Then came a surge this year, in which 12 people have been killed in the city and county as a result of frequent shootings and stabbings. Nine of those victims died in the county.

Faile has admitted it’s an unfavorable statistic but he said the sheriff’s office is being proactive in solving the problem. On his agenda for re-election is implementing CrimeTrack, a crime mapping software that gives police agencies statistics on crime in communities and neighborhoods.

With CrimeTrack – or what Faile called “problem-oriented policing” – lieutenants and patrol officers are assigned to certain districts and responsible for responding and taking care of problems in that area.

“We certainly want our officers out there, talking to the people, finding out what their problems are,” he said.

But for 25-year-old Lancaster resident Tracy Denkins, it’s not enough. In March, Denkins started a Facebook group called “Don’t Re-Elect Barry Faile.” The group gained 30 members before Denkins stopped posting because of the negative messages and feedback he received.

“Barry Faile has a lot of supporters,” said Denkins, the father of a 3-year-old son. “Everybody loved his dad” when he was sheriff.

But Denkins says he’s not sure if the sheriff’s impressive track record measured up during his time in office, citing a surge in violence he blames on a lack of change and “officer presence” in different communities.

“Honestly, I don’t feel safe for my son to start school,” he said.

Instead, Denkins is looking to Case, who has touted ideas such as community advisory boards to help improve neighborhoods. But Denkins wonders how Case will fare against a popular candidate such as Faile.

“He’s fighting an uphill battle,” Denkins said.

Describing his ideas as visions and dreams, Case said he hopes one day community members and deputies will work together “hand in hand.”

“There’s a substation in Kershaw, there’s a substation in Indian Land; one day a week, I want to be at each substation so the people in the local areas can come and talk to the sheriff instead of having to ride all the way to Lancaster to get an appointment,” he said.

If elected, Case said he’ll start a community advisory board comprised of individuals in the community – “not elected officials” – who will meet with him one day a month and air what issues are affecting their neighborhoods.

“I’m going to get with my people, my staff, and we’re going to address those issues,” he said.

He won’t promise absolutes.

“If we just can’t address it, I’m man enough to tell the people, ‘We looked into this, there’s no way we can handle this problem at this time,’” he said.

Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082

Fort Mill Times is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service