Former Aiken Co. deputy joins race for sheriff

Jeffrey Nation
Jeffrey Nation has announced he is running for sheriff of Aiken County. (WRDW-TV / March 16, 2012)
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News 12 First at Five / Friday, March 16, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- Aiken County has a new candidate for sheriff. Jeffrey Nation plans to file his paperwork this week to join the race.

Nation was fired from the department in 2008 after being charged with assault and battery. The altercation was caught on dash cam video, but he was eventually acquitted of those charges. He then filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Office which he later dropped.

The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says it acted properly in his firing.

Candidates who intend to run for office in Aiken County's June primary have until March 30 to file their paperwork to run.

Incumbent Sheriff in Aiken Michael Hunt filed his intent Friday as another candidate voiced his intent to run as well.

"I just don't think that any race should go uncontested," Nation said.

Words that will begin a very heated race for Aiken County sheriff.

"I've had a lot of people encouraging me, donating to my campaign -- those not even donating calling me with concerns over current administration," he said.

Hunt isn't focusing on the competition yet, saying, "Right now, I'm the only candidate that's filed, and if they want to file, they can file."

And in his time in office, Hunt says he's been loyal to the voters and his word.

"We told them we'd restructure the department, put more deputies on the road -- we did that within two weeks of taking office," he said.

But Hunt hasn't had competition in quite a while, telling News 12's Laura Warren, "No ma'am, I've not had any since the first election."

With Nation's recent announcement, for the first time in nine years, the Aiken County Sheriff's race is just that -- a race.

But, with Nation's rocky past with the Aiken County Sheriff's Office,
this is sure to be an interesting race.

Nation says the reason he is running is because, "The level of integrity and honesty has gone down, and I feel I can bring that back to the department."

In response to the assault allegations brought against him back in 2008, Nation said, "I was defending myself. It was found by a jury of my peers that I was not guilty and the fact was that I was defending myself."

News 12 asked Nation if he would have handled that situation differently.

"I'm going to be honest with you -- the only regret I have is in the video, there's a third person in the background walking up the middle of the road, violating the law, and my regret is that I let that man go -- he was probably the one I needed."

Nation said his termination and the dash cam video make him an underdog in the race, but he is willing to take that chance in order to see change in the Sheriff's Office.

"I understand it could hurt the race, but again, people don't understand what it's like to be a law enforcement officer," Nation said.

He said he welcomes any questions from the community regarding the charges brought against him.

News 12 also learned that Jim Vause plans to throw his hat into the race later this week. Vause runs a private security company and is also a weapons instructor. He said he has a military background and 35 years of law enforcement experience.