Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Announces New Graduate from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy

From L-R: Chief Deputy Kevin Davis, Deputy Jaime Hellams and Captain Jeff Underwood

From L-R: Chief Deputy Kevin Davis, Deputy Jaime Hellams and Captain Jeff Underwood

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————————-The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office announces a new graduate from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.

Deputy Jamie Hellams is the sixth graduate from the Academy since Sheriff Mike Crenshaw was sworn in as Sheriff on January 1st, 2013. Hellams graduated last Friday, October 10th.

Hellams is a 2006 graduate of Walhalla High School and holds an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Tri-County Technical College.

Hellams worked in private business and for Oconee County at the Rock Quarry for 8 months before being hired by the Sheriff’s Office.

Hellams has been assigned to Bravo Shift as a Road Patrol Deputy.

“White Cane Safety Day” Recognized Today in South Carolina

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)———————————“White Cane Safety Day” is recognized today in South Carolina and the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind citizens of the laws pertaining the use of white canes or guide dogs by those who are visually impaired.

According to South Carolina law (Section 43-33-50), the Governor each year “shall take suitable public notice on October 15th as White Cane Safety Day.” The Governor also issues a proclamation and call upon the citizens of South Carolina to observe the law and encourages the use proper safety procedures and consideration of disabled citizens throughout all areas of the state, regardless of location.

Section 56-5-3200 of the South Carolina Code of Laws states that whenever a pedestrian is crossing or attempting to cross a public street or highway, guided by a guide dog or carrying in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection or place where such pedestrian is attempting to cross shall bring his vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing and before proceeding shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian. However, Section 56-5-3190 of the same South Carolina Code of Laws states that only a person totally or partially blind or otherwise incapacitated can carry a cane or walking stick in a raised or extended position which is white in color or white tipped with red.

Tickets can be issued for violations of these two laws. Violations of both laws are considered misdemeanors and each is punishable by a fine of not more than $25 and/or jail time exceeding 10 days.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests California Man on Drug Charges

Duncan Marijuana Arrest #2

Duncan Marijuana Arrest #3

Duncan Marijuana Arrest

Eugene Duncan, Jr.

Eugene Duncan, Jr.

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Sacramento, CA man on drug charges yesterday after a traffic stop along I-85 in the southern part of the county.

33 year old Eugene Duncan, Jr. of 261 Graves Avenue was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 5:02pm on Temporary Custody Order until a warrant could be obtained.

Deputies initiated a traffic stop around 3:25pm on a white KIA which had a brake light out on I-85 southbound near Highway 11/exit 1, which is about a mile from the South Carolina/Georgia line. The driver, Duncan, told deputies that he was headed to Georgia to see his daughter.

According to deputies, Duncan was nervous during the stop as a deputy wrote Duncan a warning ticket for the brake light that was out. Deputies received consent to search the vehicle Duncan was in, which was rental car. A K-9 unit also arrived on the scene and the deputies K-9 conducted a free air sniff. The K-9 alerted deputies to the presence of narcotics in the vehicle.

During the search, deputies discovered a package wrapped in wrapping paper in the back seat which Duncan said was a present for his daughter. After opening the package, deputies discovered 1.6 pounds of high grade marijuana inside. According to narcotics agents, the value of the marijuana discovered was around $5,000.

A warrant obtained today charges Duncan with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Anderson County Woman, Athens, Georgia Man on Drug Trafficking Charges in Separate Incidents

Tabitha Ann Hammond

Tabitha Ann Hammond

Timothy Charles Pinkham

Timothy Charles Pinkham

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested an Anderson County woman and an Athens, Georgia man on drug trafficking charges Sunday in separate incidents in the county.

34 year old Tabitha Ann Hammond of 802 Anderson Street in Belton, SC and 57 year old Timothy Charles Pinkham of 200 Georgetown Drive in Athens, GA were booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 4:23am and 9:02pm respectively Sunday.

Hammond was arrested as a result of an investigation by a deputy on routine patrol as she and another male were seen by that officer exiting the Timberlake Boat Ramp on Boat Ramp Road near Townville around 3am, which is after the boat ramp closes except for those who are fishing

As the investigation continued, Hammond told the deputy that she had some prescription pills in a bag as well as methamphetamine.

The deputy discovered drug paraphernalia in the bag along with three large bags with a crystal like substance inside and a bag full of pills. Hammond admitted that the bag was hers.

The male was issued a uniform traffic ticket on a drug paraphernalia charge due to drug paraphernalia found on his person and released as Hammond was transported to the Detention Center.

The amount of meth discovered by the deputy was almost 50 grams. 25 Alprazolam (Xanax) were discovered also as well as $1,200 in cash in Hammond’s pocket book.

Hammond has been charged with Trafficking in Methamphetamine as well as Possession of a Controlled Substance.

The second and separate incident occurred early Sunday evening as a deputy on routine patrol noticed a vehicle on I-85 northbound near exit 2/Highway 59 exit with a broken headlight and a smashed windshield. The vehicle exited off the interstate at exit 4/Highway 243 and then failed to stop as it turned left onto West Fairplay Boulevard. The deputy also observed the vehicle drive over the perimeter line three times.

The deputy initiated a traffic stop and pulled the vehicle over. The deputy noticed the driver, Pinkham, had a glazed look in his eyes. Pinkham told the deputy that he had been taking Oxycodone while driving.

A K-9 officer arrived on the scene and deployed his K-9, which detected the presence of narcotics in the vehicle. A search of the vehicle was conducted, in which deputies found a bag of a clear crystal like substance in the cup holder of the center console along with drug paraphernalia.

According to the deputy, over 15 grams of meth was found.

Pinkham was taken to the detention center on a Temporary Custody Order on charges of Trafficking in Methamphetamine. Warrants were obtained Monday afternoon against Pinkham on those charges.

2014 South Carolina Earthquake Awareness Week

a href=”http://www2.oconeelaw.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/EarthquakeAwareness-2014.jpg”>EarthquakeAwareness 2014

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Press Release Courtesy of Joe Farmer and Derrec Becker – South Carolina Emergency Management Division

Columbia, S.C. (Monday, October 13, 2014, 11:30 a.m.) – Governor Nikki Haley has proclaimed Earthquake Awareness Week for 2014 be observed October 12-18 in South Carolina. The S.C. Emergency Management Division encourages everyone to take this opportunity to learn about our state’s seismic fault system and how best to prepare for earthquakes. A highlight of the week will be the Great Southeast ShakeOut on Thursday, October 16 at 10:16 in the morning.

There have been 24 low-magnitude earthquakes recorded in South Carolina since February 2013, including a 4.1 in Edgefield the evening of February 14, 2014. Our state experiences approximately 10 to 20 earthquakes a year according to geologists with the College of Charleston. The epicenter of the largest earthquake ever recorded along the eastern United States seaboard was just outside of Charleston on August 31, 1886. The 7.3 magnitude quake devastated the region and was felt from Chicago, Ill, to Cuba. According to a study commissioned by SCEMD, an earthquake of similar magnitude would result in tremendous loss of life, severe property damage and extreme economic loss. Results of the study are detailed in the South Carolina Earthquake Guide.

As of Monday morning, more than 260,000 people in South Carolina have signed up for the Great Southeast ShakeOut Earthquake Drill on October 16. Similar to other emergency preparedness drills sponsored by SCEMD, the signal to begin the drill will be broadcast at 10:16 a.m. on NOAA tone-alert weather radio and broadcast media.

Registration on the Southeast ShakeOut site is an important part of this event. The Great ShakeOut is open to everyone in South Carolina. To register, go to www.shakeout.org/southeast. Be sure to include the total number of people taking part in the drill with you. More than 1.8 million participants total from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C., have registered so far.

The South Carolina Earthquake Guide is available for the first time statewide via the Senior P.R.E.P. section at every Walgreens store in the state. The S.C. Earthquake Guide is the first publication that details South Carolina-specific information on what citizens should do before, during and after a major earthquake.

Everyone is encouraged to use #ShakeOut when promoting earthquake awareness this week.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Announces Three Additional Arrests in Seventh “Operation Infinity” Drug Sweep

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)———————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office announces three additional arrests today in the seventh “Operation Infinity” drug sweep round-up that began Thursday morning, September 25th.

The Sheriff’s Office began the operation that day with a meeting at the Law Enforcement Center at 8:30am with a briefing that also included officers from the Seneca, Walhalla and Westminster Police Departments.

In all, 19 individuals were being sought on a variety of drug distribution charges that stretched from methamphetamine to marijuana to crack to cocaine to heroin to prescription drugs. As part of this phase of “Operation Infinity,” four individuals were being sought on warrants on charges of Unlawful Neglect of a Child.

The three additional arrests occurred between midnight Thursday, October 2nd and midnight Sunday, October 12th. In all, 21 have been arrested so far and the Sheriff’s Office is seeking 2 more. Here are the names of the three individuals arrested and their charges according to warrants:

1) Crystal Nicole Boykin
210 Rainbows End Drive
Walhalla, SC
26 years old
Distribution of Methamphetamine (1 count)
Booked into the Oconee County Detention Center on 10/3/2014 at 7:52pm

2) Lindsay Rebecca Eades
3063 Safety Harbor Road
West Union, SC
21 years old
Distribution of Methamphetamine (1 count)
Booked into the Oconee County Detention Center on 10/11/2014 around 10:48pm

3) Tonya Lee Trammell
210 Trammell Drive
Seneca, SC
25 years old
Unlawful Neglect of a Child (1 count)
Booked into the Oconee County Detention Center on 10/12/14 around 3:57pm

In an additional note, Eades arrest on Saturday evening during a routine traffic stop led to additional charges being filed, including Possession of Methamphetamine, Providing False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer, and Simple Possession of Marijuana. Eades also had a second outstanding warrant for Distribution of Methamphetamine that was separate from the first one.

The following is a list of the individuals still being sought by the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in this “Operation Infinity” drug roundup:

1) James Elwood Shifflett
162 Connor Boulevard
Fair Play, SC
49 years old
Distribution of Methamphetamine (2 counts)

2) Larry Allen Ford
514 Fernwood Drive
Seneca, SC
29 years old
Trafficking in Cocaine (1 count)
Trafficking in Crack Cocaine (1 count)
Possession of a Controlled Substance (MDMA)
Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana (1 count)

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Road Patrol Captain Jeff Underwood Comments in Magazine Article

Captain Jeff Underwood

Captain Jeff Underwood

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————Jeff Underwood, Captain of the Road Patrol Division of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, was one of several officers from around the country featured in a recent article in Police Magazine concerning law enforcement officers requesting or not requesting the need for back-up.

The article, written by Dean Scoville, was titled “Alone Against All Odds,” which was published on June 24th. The article dealt with the reluctance sometimes for officers to request back-up in certain situations due to a fear of being ridiculed by other officers or thinking in their mind that they may be considered not tough enough.

The article mentioned the passing of Oconee County Sheriff’s Office deputy Bill Schuck, who died in February of 2010 after trying to free his car that was stuck in the mud after turning down a dirt road looking for a suicidal male. Schuck called his wife to report the situation but said he was too embarrassed to ask for assistance.

After dispatch did not hear from Schuck for hours, a secondary search was initiated in which Schuck was found dead pinned against a tree behind the front part of his vehicle as it rolled forward while Schuck tried free it. The 26 year old deputy left behind a wife and unborn child.

According to Captain Underwood, Scoville normally writes an article called “Officer Down,” which focuses on officer shootings, for example. But after speaking with Underwood and discussing the circumstances of the death of Deputy Schuck, Underwood said the focus of Scoville’s article changed.

“He (Scoville) liked the thought of doing a different type of article related to officers having to do a lot of things by themselves,” according to Underwood. “He went ahead and got several more stories similar to it.”

After the incident, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office made changes in protocol in regards to dispatch doing roll calls on deputies, especially those on night shift, and improvements in GPS capabilities. In fact, dispatchers routinely check on officers who are out on calls. Underwood says these protocols were enacted after Deputy Schuck’s death to try to make sure that a similar incident did not happen for officer accountability and safety.

“With the digital radio’s being implemented, they can be GPS pinged if the need arises to get the officer’s whereabouts,” according to Underwood. “Night shift starting at midnight does a roll call every hour on the hour checking to see if all the officers are okay. If an officer does not speak up, then they (officers and dispatchers) immediately begin calling cell phones and start looking for them.”

“The message that has been communicated throughout ever since then is ‘when in doubt, get someone to help you out,’” says Underwood. “We don’t want them to ever be afraid to ask for help.”

There are times, according to Underwood, where officers may have to go it alone, such as during active shooter situations, where a single officer may have to face multiple armed suspects.

“You have to assess every situation and we are asking officers as reasonably as possible not to take any unnecessary risks by themselves,” says Underwood.

Captain Underwood makes it a point to remind those road patrol deputies that he supervises that he has to ask for help from his supervisors as well and if they are ever in a situation where there is a possibility that something could go wrong, then don’t be afraid to ask for help because those officers who do will not be ridiculed. Underwood also believes that more emphasis being placed on seeking help on other officers has them thinking ahead more as they approach calls and helps in prepositioning officers to respond.

All 33 road patrol officers with the Sheriff’s Office are now wearing the TASER AXON Flex system cameras and Captain Underwood believes that having another “set of eyes” may contribute to officers asking for help more often.

“I think it would actually increase the likelihood of them asking for help,” says Underwood. “It brings about a little bit different situational awareness that they did not have before. They start thinking about the situation a little differently.”

The article can be read online by clicking on the following link: http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/articles/2014/06/alone-against-all-odds.aspx#.VCR7hho7XWc.email

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Seeks Public’s Help in Vandalism of Walhalla Area Church

Poplar Springs Church Photo

Poplar Springs Church Picture #2

Poplar Springs Photo #3

Poplar Springs Photo #4

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help regarding a vandalism that occurred to a Walhalla area church.

A deputy responded this morning to Poplar Springs Baptist Church at 500 Poplar Springs Road and spoke with the pastor of the church who advised the deputy that when he arrived at the church this morning that he noticed several things out of place, including cones across the street that had been knocked over and one placed on top of a headstone in the cemetery across the road.

The pastor also noticed a cinderblock that had been thrown through a window of a church. A check by the deputy revealed no further damage and nothing was discovered missing. A check with dispatch revealed no suspicious activity during the night shift Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

According to deputies, the damage probably occurred during the time frame between 1pm Tuesday and 10am on Wednesday.

If you have any information on this vandalism at Poplar Springs Baptist Church at the intersection of Poplar Springs Road and Dickard Road, please contact Crime Stoppers at 864-638-STOP, 1-888-CRIME-SC, or text in your tip to 274637. You don’t have to give your name and if you tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Charges Salem Husband and Wife on Unlawful Neglect of a Child Charges

Rachel Marie Sellers

Rachel Marie Sellers

William Joel Sellers

William Joel Sellers

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has charged a Salem husband and wife on Unlawful Neglect of a Child charges in relation to a positive drug test of their 8 year old child.

32 year old William Joel Sellers was served his warrant yesterday at the Oconee County Detention Center. Sellers was arrested on September 10th on unrelated charges and was still in custody.

37 year old Rachel Marie Sellers was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 12:07pm yesterday after being arrested by the warrants division of the Sheriff’s Office.

The couple’s previous address was 165 Whitewater Falls Road.

Deputies were alerted on October 6th by the Department of Social Services that the couple’s 8 year old child had tested positive for Amphetamine and Methamphetamine. The test on the child was conducted on September 16th.

According to warrants, both parents tested positive for the same drugs on September 8th. Warrants also state that the incident in question occurred at the Whitewater Falls Road address sometime between June 16th and September 16th.

The child has been placed with family members.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Seneca Man on CDV, Assault and Battery Charges

Scott Michael Mono

Scott Michael Mono

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Seneca man Monday morning on charges of Criminal Domestic Violence and Assault and Battery.

34 year old Scott Michael Mono of 122 Hillside Lane was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 10:57am.

Warrants charge Mono with Criminal Domestic Violence – 1st Degree in regards to an incident that occurred Monday morning at the Hillside Lane address in which the victim was bit on her right shoulder and hit in the head with a metal broom handle. Mono and the victim live at the Hillside Lane location.

During the course of the investigation, it was determined that Mono had assaulted a five year old female child on Sunday at the Hillside Lane location by kicking the child in the face and causing her nose to bleed. The victim is the mother of the five year old, but Mono is not the biological father, according to deputies. Mono was charged in warrants with Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature.

Deputies contacted DSS and the five year old female child as well as another child, a 3 year old male child who also lives at the Hillside Lane location, was placed into emergency protective custody. Mono is the biological father of the 3 year old male but the victim is not the biological mother.

The investigation began with a call by the victim around 6:15am Monday due to a disturbance at the Hillside Lane location concerning the assault and threats made by Mono against the victim and the 5 year old minor female.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation.