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Swansea family furious at lack of concern from the Swansea's Police Department after shooting

Swansea, SC 03/08/2022 (Paul Kirby) – George Hutto has lived in the Town of Swansea for many years now. Although he knows not to expect law enforcement services in Swansea like you’d get in a larger city with a higher population and a larger number of total tax paying citizens, in the past, when he has had to rely on help from the Swansea Police Department, he knew someone from that department would drop what they were doing, come by, and check on his family if there was a problem.

“When Cliff Hayes was the police chief,” Hutto said, “if a Swansea officer wasn’t working when the crime occurred, I knew I might see a Lexington County Deputy first, but as soon as the first SPD officer came on duty, Cliff made sure a Swansea police car would turn into my drive in minutes. It might be as something small like a stolen weed eater, but they’d at least stop by and let me know they cared and were working on the case. Even if all the Swansea officers were off when the crime happened, Chief Hayes made sure my family and I knew they cared about us. You can’t believe how much of a difference that made to my wife and now my son’s wife when we were away. We had police officers that knew just a visit and a little look around themselves made us feel safer, more secure. Hell, more than anything, it was just the principal of the thing. Someone cared enough to come by and check!” This weekend, the crime that was committed was more than some stolen lawn and garden tool. “In my opinion, this was attempted murder. Some fool almost killed my grandbaby just driving down the road shooting into houses. Once we called, except from the folks from the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, no has acted like they gave a dern about it at all!”

Hutto said that because he’s lived on the outskirts of the town, it’s not uncommon to hear some shooting at different times of the day or the night. “Although I live inside the town’s limits, I’m pretty sure it is illegal to pop off rounds right here. It’s never caused a problem and it’s never really scared us because it's so common,” Hutto said in a telephone interview with The Lexington Ledger’s editor Sunday evening. “About 3:20 a.m. Saturday morning, I could hear the sound of three shots from the road, and it sounded like the shooting was coming from a car that was speeding down Southbound Road (Hwy 321 south.) I could hear more rounds pop off, but you could tell they were getting further away. We didn’t even call the cops right them because this happens so often. Before daybreak, my son and I got moving, loaded up our stuff, left the house, and went fishing. It's a Saturday tradition for us. His wife slept in a few more hours, but when she woke up around 9 a.m., she found a two bullet holes in the window right over the crib where their baby was sleeping. That’s when she immediately called my son and me. She then dialed 911 after we talked. I hung up with her and called Kevin Howser; a Swansea reserve police officer who’ve I’ve known for years. Kevin said Swansea’s Police Chief Earl Williams, III was around at the school umpiring a baseball game that would be over at about noon. Meanwhile, a Lexington County deputy would respond. One did come by, collected some 9mm casings from the road in front of the house, took some photos, dug a slug out of the inside of the house, and left.

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At noon, a young Swansea officer came on-duty, according to Hutto. “Kevin and I talked so I knew that was the schedule. Kevin and I expected he’d be by right after he signed on to patrol at noon. Instead, at 1:45 p.m., he stopped by my son’s house and asked if the Sheriff’s Department had come by to collect evidence and take some pictures,” Hutto said. “When we told him they had already been by, he seemed unconcerned and left himself. As of late Tuesday evening, we still haven’t heard any words on the investigation or words of encouragement from the Town of Swansea’s Police Department,” Hutto said. “Chief Williams hasn’t called, stopped by, or said anything! A victim’s advocate called from the Sheriff’s Department, but we hadn’t heard from any advocate from Swansea! Truth is, although I think Swansea's Police Department is supposed to have a victim's advocate, it really don't seem like anyone gives a damn about us!”

“I’ll be honest with you,” Hutto said in a second interview Tuesday. “We pay taxes and as a part of that’ we should be getting provide 24-hour a day, 7 day per week police protection I thought,” Hutto said. “I was absolutely shocked to hear that we have a small, part-time police department that has to rely on the busy Lexington County Sheriff’s Department to keep things going when Swansea’s Police Department is off. Exactly where do we spend our tax money?!?”

Other small towns like South Congaree have no tax base to work from. According to their Police Chief Josh Shumpert, they usually can maintain 24/7 police protection based on business license and franchise fees. “Swansea collects those same types of fees and has an added tax that people who live here like us have to pay. How is it that our department is so much smaller? Something just isn’t right,” Hutto said. “You got two 9 mm holes in a glass window inches away from where my grandbaby head lays and yet a shooting like this generates no more excitement than this. I wonder if the chief would have found someone else to umpire the game if the bullets had hit near him or one of his children?”

Hutto says he’s decided one thing he will do is get more involved. “I can tell you this. I’ll be at the next meeting of the Swansea Town Council. I want to know why I pay county taxes from the Sheriff’s Department and town taxes for a Police Department and people can still ride up and down the road shooting away,” Hutto said. “Maybe it’s time to look at that whole bunch up there at the Swansea Town Hall. We need a fulltime, well trained, top of the line equipped Police Department and we ought to be able to have one with the money they’re paying in, Hutto concluded. Maybe if we can pack the place out, they can tell us what they spend our money on!"


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