Cottageville police debate: Councilman proposes to dissolve department

A packed house at the Cottageville town council meeting Monday evening.
A packed house at the Cottageville town council meeting Monday evening.

COTTAGEVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Over a hundred people packed the Cottageville council chambers to once again discuss the town's police department.

But this time, instead of demanding that the town fire one of its officers, most are begging for the entire force to be saved.

"I'm afraid to send my wife to the store at 8:00 at night to get a gallon of milk," William Yocum said.

Yocum said if the town of Cottageville didn't have a police department, crime would increase, which makes him worry about his family's safety.

He said he thinks the May 16 shooting death of former mayor Bert Reeves put the department in a negative light.  Authorities said Officer Randy Price pulled the trigger. Yocum said he hopes that incident isn't why the department could be dissolved.

"Don't use that and ruin our town," Yocum said.

Council member George Addison originally proposed the idea, saying getting rid of the department would save the town money. He also said the proposal isn't entirely based on the shooting.

The town is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

Those in favor of disbanding the police department say that the Colleton County Sheriff's Office could watch over the citizens of Cottageville.

"Much of the audience just doesn't understand what possibilities are available to this town as far as contracting out the sheriff's department," one audience member said.

But the majority of people at the meeting say crime would get out of hand without full time officers.

Colleton County Sheriff George Malone says the entire county is 1,100 square miles, and only about seven deputies are working at night.

Many say it would take those deputies too long to respond to Cottageville in an emergency.

No decision was made Monday night.  Council member Addison says this idea is still in the early planning stages.

SLED and the FBI continue to investigate the shooting death of Reeves.

The chief prosecutor has asked for a federal grand jury investigation into the incident.

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