Chester County council considers recommendations from gang task force

Chester County council considers recommendations from gang task force

CHESTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Members of the Chester County council now have recommendations from a gang task force to use as they debate this year's budget proposal.

A task force was created in January 2015 after the shooting and killing of Odell Williams, who at the time was a councilman for the city of Chester.

Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood has repeatedly asked for more manpower to fight what he calls a rising gang problem.

According to findings from the task force, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division reported 172 documented members in 10 gangs in Chester County.

The much larger York County had 137 documented members, the report states. Nearby Fairfield County has seven members and Union County has 82.

Members did note that Chester County is more aggressive in reporting gang members into the database.

The Chester County council heard recommendations from the task force at its meeting on Monday. Not all members submitted a recommendation.

Some want to add more funding to the departments like the sheriff's office, the solicitor's office and the public defender's office.

Others recommended a change of how the sheriff's office spends its resources. The council voted to accept the task force's findings as information.

Underwood stands to lose four deputies who were serving as school resource officers, while Chester County Schools switches to a private security company.

Under the current budget proposal, Underwood would be able to keep the four deputies and repurpose their duties.

The proposal passed the first reading Monday night and it does come with a tax increase.

A public hearing is set for June 15th and a third and final reading is expected on June 22nd.

There won't be new deputies added unless there is a motion from another county council member to the current budget proposal.

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