Town of Hilton Head Island will pay for review of sheriff’s office’s performance

Law enforcement is under scrutiny in Hilton Head Island, as the Town of Hilton Head Island decides to have an independent review of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office conducted. Mayor David Bennett has called for other departments reviewed, as well, but those are being done internally.

Sheriff PJ Tanner questions Bennett’s motives for the performance review. Bennett says it’s done in the name of transparency.

“Well, principally, it’s just an outgrowth of my initial campaign,” Bennett tells NEWS 3, “which was to make sure that all public dollars are being spent as wisely as possible.”

For years, the town has contracted with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services, rather than establish its own police department. Now, $30,000 is budgeted for the review.

“Regardless of what the motivation is, let’s pick someone to do this, and let’s move forward,” Sheriff Tanner says.

Tanner welcomes the review. He says a similar review was conducted in 2001, for $59,000; however, after it was completed, no action was taken.

Bennett says there have been some complaints on law enforcement that he’s fielded.

“I would hope that if they were getting these complaints, they would forward those on to us for us to look at, especially if it was a complaint on an officer,” Tanner says.

One business man working on the south end of the island says he rarely sees crime nearby, and hopes the reviews don’t spur talk of forming a town police force.

“Well, see the cost of establishing a constabulary on Hilton Head Island would be really expensive, a lot more expensive than what we would pay the sheriff’s department to do,” Dennis Moore says.

For now, Bennett says that’s not the goal.

“Right now, I just want to make certain that all of our dollars are being used wisely,” he says.

Moore says he would further be against a town police department, because of security he and his neighbors pay into, within their neighborhood regimes.

“I believe the cost of establishing a police department actually outweighs the problem of crime that we have on Hilton Head,” Moore says.

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