COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office ordered all its deputies to not assist South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers in an email sent out earlier this year.
“Unless the situation is a life or death situation the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office will no longer be assisting the Highway Patrol,” Capt. Clint Crouse wrote in the email. “Unless directed to do so by a Capt., The Major, The Assist. Chief or The Sheriff. No deputy is to assist in Trooper duties.”
The email, titled “Highway Patrol,” is dated Jan. 18, 2019. The captain also added that the office will not direct traffic for accidents.
“All deputies are expected to stop and assist broken down citizens if you drive up on them," Crouse wrote. “Until further instructions..... Be Safe.”
The situation, which Crouse said is now resolved, all came to a head in January.
“We had been answering calls from the Highway Patrol, because they had a manpower shortage,” Crouse said. “It comes to the point where our citizens were suffering in the response times, because we were answering the highway patrol calls, instead of our calls.”
He added two of his deputies were responding to their own call, but on their way, they drove up on a head-on collision.
“It had the roadway blocked, and the deputies that drove up on the accident were en route to a domestic call,” Crouse said. "They were stuck on that accident call for more than two hours, directing traffic, as the highway patrol had given an extended ETA. They weren’t on scene.”
Some time after that, the issue was resolved.
“Our sheriff and their first sergeant had a discussion, and they worked things out, and it’s kind of normal operations for us," Crouse said. “Their personal situation is looking better. And they’re handling their calls as they normally would, and we’re handling our calls as we normally would.”
The South Carolina Highway Patrol also responded to this newly-released email.
“The South Carolina Highway Patrol investigates collisions and assists with traffic matters with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office as we do with jurisdictions statewide," spokesperson Robert Hughes said. "We have a good working relationship with the men and women who serve with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office and plan to continue that positive relationship to best serve the needs of the citizens who live and travel through Colleton County.”