Florence County Council welcomes interim sheriff
FLORENCE, S.C. – Interim Florence County Sheriff William C. “Billy” Barnes reintroduced himself to the Florence County Council on Thursday morning.
“Probably most of you know me, but there may be one or two of you that don’t,” he said. “A couple of you were here the first go-around. I’m back!”
Barnes was appointed interim Florence County sheriff by Gov. Henry McMaster on April 24. On that day, Attorney General Alan Wilson announced indictments against Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone. Boone was arrested and arraigned before Richland County Judge DeAndrea G. Benjamin on that day.
Barnes, who served as sheriff from 1973 to 1993, said he had always had a good working relationship with the council, the county administrator and the finance department.
Earlier Boone, whom Barnes replaced, was investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for alleged threats made against county finance director Kevin Yokim.
“I guess I need to apologize for the actions of my predecessor,” Barnes said. “He put y’all in a bad position, embarrassed you. I don’t do that. I don’t work that way. I think you know me well enough to know that I don’t.”
Barnes said he appreciated the council for doing what it could to help the sheriff’s office.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, the council has included $650,000 in funds to provide raises to the employees of the sheriff’s office and detention center.
Barnes added that he wasn’t expecting or looking for the job of sheriff but found it difficult to turn down a request from Gov. McMaster.
Council Chairman Waymon Mumford said he was very familiar with Barnes before Barnes began speaking. Mumford served in several capacities, including as chief of the Florence Police Department, which would have coincided with Barnes’ tenure as sheriff.
Councilman Roger Poston told Barnes, “Welcome back” after Barnes spoke.
“Thank you for your attendance today, and we look forward to working with you for the betterment of Florence County,” Mumford said. “We appreciate your willingness to step into this position at such a critical time for our law enforcement. This council stands ready to assist you in your endeavors to unify the department and coordinate the progressive path for the department and our citizens. We know the sheriff’s office is in good hands.”
Barnes thanked Mumford and said that everyone has one goal in mind: to do the best job of law enforcement possible for the people of Florence County.