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Two seeking Bamberg County Sheriff’s seat Print E-mail
Written by Joyce M. Searson, Publisher   

Two longtime residents of Bamberg County will be vying for the sheriff’s seat in the June 10th Primary Election.

Incumbent J. Edward Darnell, after being appointed by Governor Edwards in April of 1978 to fill an unexpired term, has served 7 consecutive four-year terms as sheriff of Bamberg County.

Newcomer Douglas Stokes is currently the chief of campus security at Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College in Orangeburg.

Despite rumors that Darnell was retiring, he said, “I have no intentions of retiring and look forward to serving Bamberg County as sheriff in my eighth term in January 2009.”

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Darnell contributes his success as sheriff to his well trained and professional staff. They are continuously receiving required training in all areas of the field. He said they are like one big happy family and all work together as a team.

“I stay in touch with my deputies and dispatch and I know what is going on in the county at all times and we have increased our response time,” said Darnell. “Currently, we have 12 deputies, 3 reserve officers, 1 part-time officer and 3 secretaries on staff.”

The county has just recently received over $700,000 in grants to upgrade the office computers and to install laptop computers in all the officers’ cars to enable them to generate on the scene reports. A live scan finger printing computer has been installed as well.

“We are continuously working hard to reduce crime in the county along with the drug problem. Drug cases usually take a year to two years before they go to court.

We have one of the finest Dare Programs in the state headed up by Deputy Adrienne Blume in both the public and private schools,” said the Sheriff.

Darnell said he has good rapport with federal and state law enforcement and it takes time to build that kind of relationship, it doesn’t just happen over night. He has been in law enforcement for a total of 36 years, serving as a policeman in Denmark from 1972 to 1978. He is the longest serving sheriff in the history of the county and the 3rd senior sheriff serving in the state. Darnell was the first recipient of the (2005) William Bill Deloach Distinguish Service Award; president of the S.C. Sheriff’s Association in 1986 and in 2001 was S.C. Sheriff of the Year. He is retired from the National Guard after 31 years.

A Denmark native, he was married to the late Betty Ruth Black Darnell and has four sons, Tommy Darnell of Chapin, Stephen Darnell of Lexington, Johnathan Darnell of Barnwell and William Darnell of Denmark. He is currently married to June Heape Darnell and they reside in Denmark.

The year 2007 was a hard year for Darnell, losing his wife, his great-granddaughter, a sister and Deputy Charles Grimes, but he is looking forward to the new year.

“I enjoy what I do, it is not just about being the Sheriff, you have to be able to relate with everyone. The people of Bamberg County have been good to me and they are just like family to me,” said Darnell.

In a recent press release, Douglas Stokes, a 23-year law enforcement veteran announced in early November of last year that he will enter the 2008 Sheriff’s race for Bamberg County.

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Since 1994, Stokes has been the Chief of Campus Safety and Security at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. A South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy graduate, Stokes has been a Class One Certified Law Enforcement Officer for more than 20 years. He is also a State Constable for the State of South Carolina, which gives him statewide arrest powers.

Before accepting his current position at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, Stokes was an investigator for Denmark Technical College.

In 1983 and 1989 respectively, Stokes earned both a Bachelor of Science Degree and an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Voorhees College. Stokes is also a graduate of Denmark-Olar High School and has lived in Bamberg County all of his life.

In 1998, the Bamberg City Council appointed Stokes to complete the unexpired term of the late John “Candy” Bunch as a commissioner on the Bamberg Board of Public Works. He served in that capacity for approximately two years. The Bamberg County Council also appointed Stokes to serve on the recently organized Planning Commission for the County. “This has been a great opportunity to work with other members of the commission and County Council to help move our county forward,” he said.

Stokes, 45, said, “I have always wanted to be in law enforcement. For the last decade, I have seriously thought about becoming a Bamberg County Sheriff’s candidate. I take pride in my profession and want to use my training to serve the Bamberg County community by building trust and confidence, and being responsive to the needs of the community.”

Stokes said his idea of serving the community will include four basic goals.

“If I am elected Sheriff, I will treat the community with dignity and display a committed attitude.” Stokes said he also thinks it’s important for the Sheriff’s Department to have a vision. “Because the needs of the community are constantly changing and evolving, I want to look beyond the present and be able to anticipate the response that will best serve the future of our community.”

Stokes said he also wants to partner with all of the schools and colleges in Bamberg County. ‘We have two colleges, a Job Corps Center, two public school districts and a private school. They will all benefit from my extensive training in campus safety,” he noted of South Carolina.

Stokes has also been a member of the South Carolina Army National Guard for 22 years. For the second straight year, he and his wife, Lisa were recently named the 2007 National Guard Family of the Year for the Alpha 163D Support Battalion.

“I have been a National Guard platoon leader for more than half of my military career and was the acting First Sergeant until recently,” Stokes said. He is in the process of retiring from the National Guard.

“If elected, I will do an assessment of the county to see what the county needs are and see what kind of upgrades and grants will be possible, such as Homeland Security, Mutual Aide, Pandemic Flu, and drug programs. I want to increase the level of security at the schools. I think that there a lot of resources out there that have not even been touched,” said Stokes. “I think I will be an asset to the county with all my military and law enforcement background.”

Stokes is married to the former Lisa Brown, a retired Bamberg County teacher and coach. She is the executive director for the Bamberg County Chamber of Commerce. The Stokes’ have three children; Shannon a teacher and coach in Lexington County, Kimberly a doctoral candidate at Ohio State University and Kyle a 7th grade student at Bamberg-Ehrhardt Middle School.

The filing date for this office will be March 17, 2008.

 
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