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Retiring Bamberg County sheriff reflects on long tenure

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 8:21 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - One of South Carolina’s oldest and longest-serving sheriffs is retiring on Monday.

Ed Darnell, 84, of Bamberg County has been in law enforcement for 48 years and spent 42 of those leading the county’s sheriff’s office. In that time, he said he only fired his gun once in the air as a warning shot.

“Of course, I didn’t come close to him, but the clothesline in the back yard got him,” he remembered with a smile.

In fact, he rarely even carries a gun and said one time when he went around town with a weapon people assumed he was mad or something was wrong. He said he only used force as last resort.

The self-proclaimed small-town sheriff prides himself on leaning on his personal relationships with the community in order to maintain peace.

While he also admits he can’t move around like he used to, the changes in protocols including everything from how to request a warrant to relying on computers has convinced him it’s time for a new sheriff to come to town.

“I got one guy upstairs and all he does is stay on the computer; I mean, he can make that computer talk to you,” he said pointing to his computer-less desk.

The sheriff has come to terms with the fact that he may have aged out of his role but said he will miss the personal connections he made on the job.

“I’ve enjoyed it. I love helping people. I love working with people,” he said.

Darnell knows it won’t be long before he is longing for the days when people would drop by his house or office to ask for help understanding how bonds work or seeking advice on how to set their child straight. But he is proud of what he was able to accomplish in his nearly five decades of service.

For a man with only a high school education, Darnell said his street smarts and staying humble have been the keys to his success.

“You can have all the degrees you want and all the paperwork you want, but if you don’t have common sense, you are not gonna make it,” he said.

Darnell is well aware that a number of sheriffs across South Carolina have been arrested or faced legal challenges while in a position of power and takes pride in being able to leave office with his head held high.

“I’m ok, I’m retired, and I’m going that door the same way I came in,” he said.

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