Monday, May 24, 2010

Cost of crime lab will pay dividends

Bluffton Today

This week I had an excellent talk with Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner. One of the items up for discussion was the opening of the new crime lab a couple of weeks ago.

Not only is this a state-of-the-art forensics and DNA facility, it was produced in an amazingly short time for a comparatively modest outlay of dollars.

The sheriff and I agree that the cost/benefit analysis for this law enforcement tool is such that the citizens of Beaufort County bought a ton of security and crime prevention for a pound of expenditure.

Sheriff Tanner and Solicitor Duffy Stone no longer have to wait in line for crucial forensic analysis work at the SLED lab in Columbia. We can expect their efficiency, which is already high, to take asignificant bump up when this lab comes on line in July.

The progression of this lab project from idea to operational unit is a great example of why Tanner has a statewide reputation as an elected official who gets things done. From eight years on the Judiciary Committee, I know for a fact that our sheriff is the standard against which most law enforcement officers are measured in South Carolina.

One of my first major legislative initiatives many years ago, which resulted in the Fender Bender Law, was at the urging of Sheriff Tanner. He is still the levelheaded voice of reason whenever the delegation considers law enforcement matters.

I had the pleasure of speaking to the Forum Club over at Sun City last week. What a great group. The dialogue and interaction with these folks is always a lot of fun for me. They pay attention to what’s going on and aren’t shy about contributing ideas on how things might be done better or more efficiently, or more cost effectively. I get more good, solid ideas from Sun City folks in one speaking engagement than most of my colleagues get from constituents in an entire year. Come to think of it, isn’t that what representative democracy is supposed to be about. Ideally, we are not just talking about the “consent of the governed” but also the active, enthusiastic participation of the governed.

Last week, I had agood talk with my pal Buck Limehouse, secretary of the state Department of Transportation. He will be coming for avisit in the very near future to help sort out some of our lingering transportation issues. One might reasonably ask why we are even talking about roads in view of the budget catastrophe we are currently experiencing. The answer is that many of our road projects are at least partially funded already, and what we need is coordination with SCDOT. At any rate, we will be discussing the entrance to St. Gregory the Great, medians going into Hilton Head, as well as some traffic calming and parking issues along S.C. 46 and S.C. 170.

My experience is that a site visit with the fellow in charge is worth about six months of e- mails and phone calls to those further down the food chain.

Finally, if you sent me an email last week and I didn’t get back to you right away, it’s because we had another glitch in the e-mail system in Columbia. I estimate we lost around 100 emails. My communication with you is aseriously big deal and any time it’s interrupted, I’m more than a little concerned. Please resend those e-mails and I will be right back to you.