Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2003
Source: Times and Democrat, The (SC)
Copyright: 2003, The Times and Democrat
Author: Tucker Lyon, T&D Government Writer


Faced with a backlog of drug cases that has resulted in even more crime, 
Orangeburg City Council on Tuesday approved acceptance of a $73,850 state 
grant that will provide the city with a forensic drug lab employee.

Department of Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis explained to council the 
problems caused by the delay in processing narcotic cases.

"People can be bailed out," he said, and because of the delay in lab work, 
they have the opportunity to commit more and more crimes before they are 
eventually adjudicated.

"I'm not saying we're number one, but I do know from our discussions with 
the solicitor that the backlog is significant," Davis said after the session.

Agreeing, City Administrator John Yow said that "part of the problem is the 
recidivism of repeat offenders." If the city takes care of the problem on 
the first offense, there should not be as much follow-up crime.

Although he initially wanted an entire forensic lab, Davis said he realized 
it would be more prudent to get a forensic person who will work out of the 
already established Lexington County lab while gaining experience. His 
office will hire a qualified and dedicated individual who will use the 
resources from Lexington County, as well as SLED.

Responding to questions from council, the chief said the "turn-around time" 
should be measured in weeks instead of months.

According to Davis, his office is looking for a partnership in the 1st 
Judicial Circuit with the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office. Although 
there may be some cross jurisdictional work, he said that the primary work 
will involve just Orangeburg County, not Calhoun or Dorchester.

"We're primarily working to make sure we eliminate the backlog," he said. 
"There's no formal agreement (with Orangeburg County), but we're in 

The state grant, which is for one year, with an option for renewal, also 
requires a 25 percent local match, for a total amount of about $97,000.

In other business, after a public hearing, council gave first reading to an 
ordinance that will rezone Claflin University's Goff Avenue property from 
A-2 (Multi-Unit) Residential District to O-I (Office-Institutional) 
Residential District.

The change was recommended by the Planning Commission and the county 
attorney stated it would not be spot zoning.

Speaking for Claflin, Dr. George Bradley explained that the university 
plans to build a new student complex on campus, with four dormitories and a 
cafeteria. The rezoning of property will allow Claflin more flexibility.

In other business, council:

- -- Agreed to the request of Time Warner Cablevision for an extension of 
time before the cable franchise is submitted. The extension is until July 8.

- -- Appointed Tyronne Frederick from the Public Works Department to a 
three-year term on the Grievance Committee.

- -- Received as information, the suggestion of the mayor that council 
postpone the regular July 1 session if there is no scheduled business. 
Council will consider the issue at the next session.

- -- Received as information, the reminder that a planning session will be 
held at South Carolina State University on June 21.

- -- Proclaimed "courage" as the character trait for June.
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager