COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Georgia Governor Brian Kemp told gang members in the state of Georgia to get out and move to South Carolina and Florida during a speech at the Chamber of Commerce in Savannah on Wednesday.
Law enforcement officials in South Carolina reacted on Friday to those comments.
When the governor made the remarks earlier this week, they were met with laughter. However, law enforcement in South Carolina WIS spoke did not find the comments funny and said it doesn’t solve the problem of gangs in the United States.
“You’re happy because the ants aren’t in your yard anymore,” said Kershaw County Sheriff Lee Boan. “You’re happy until you’re neighbor puts poison back and it comes back in your yard.”
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was speaking at the Savannah Chamber on Wednesday to a crowd of hundreds when he said, “But my message to any gang member in this area or anywhere in the state of Georgia, you should move to Florida or South Carolina.”
Sheriff Leon Lott said the comments are disappointing.
“We don’t work that way in law enforcement. We support each other and we don’t trash each other and it kind of just hit me as telling all the bad people to go to South Carolina and we don’t need that,” Sheriff Lott said.
Governor Kemp went on to say in the speech, “because I am tired of our law enforcement officials being shot up for no reason by gang bangers.”
But both Sheriff Boan and Sheriff Lott said telling them to leave doesn’t solve the problem.
“What I would say to anyone who is a gang member, I’m not going to send you to another state. I’m going to send you to jail. I’m going to take care of the problem while it’s here,” Sheriff Boan said.
“The gang issue is not just in Georgia or South Carolina or Florida. It’s a gang issue across the United States and the only way to solve it is by working together, not against each other,” Sheriff Lott said.
Lott said the gang problem in Richland County is better than it’s been in decades.
“That’s how we’ve been successful is getting everyone involved and admitting that we have a problem. So, if the governor of Georgia is just realizing he has a gang problem, his head has been in the sand for a long time,” Sheriff Lott said.
Sheriff Lott teamed up with Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook in 2018 to create a violent crime and gun initiative task force. This spring, Sheriff Lott said, a year after this task force formed, the number of guns stolen dropped by about 10%.
WIS reached out to Governor Henry McMaster for his thoughts on the comments but haven’t heard back.