NEWBERRY — In early February it was reported the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, Newberry Police Department, Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, State Law Enforcement, Probation, Pardon, and Parole and ATF began had a drug round up of suspects sought for selling illegal drugs, possessing illegal drugs and possessing weapons. To date, there are only nine suspects who remain wanted, out of the original 42.
“Those who were wanted, they either turned themselves in, or we picked them up at traffic stops, because they are entered into the computer,” said Sheriff Lee Foster.
Those still wanted, according to Chief Deputy Todd Johnson, are:
• Keeman Aljamek Bates 36, distribution of marijuana.
• Anthony Dawkins 54, distribution of cocaine.
• Cory Lazar Johnson 24, distribution of marijuana.
• James Aaron Kibler 56, distribution of crack cocaine (two counts).
• Brittany Ann McKee 28, distribution of ecstasy.
• Phelepeo Pablo Nance 41, distribution of crack cocaine, distribution of marijuana.
• Reginald Derand Summers 37, distribution of cocaine.
• Trey Trevez Wadsworth 24, distribution of cocaine, distribution of marijuana, distribution of crack cocaine.
• Kiedric Antwone Williams 35, distribution of marijuana.
Foster said they were able to get warrants on these individuals thanks to Newberry residents and investigations.
“Mostly from complaints that we got from citizens that watched either drug deals or acts of violence go down, and then they said that’s the person or this person is involved, and then we began investigating them. We had to actually do the investigation in order to get the probable cause to arrest them, through a variety of situations, surveillance and undercover work,” he said.
With the arrests, both Foster and City of Newberry Police Chief Roy McClurkin say there has been an impact on the community.
“I would say the combination of this round up and some active enforcement efforts on behalf of the city and the county has reduced (criminal activity). We continue to still have the random shots fired, some of those are actually done out of violence, some of them are done to stir fear, some of them are done because of not worrying about the safety of their neighbors. It is a multifaceted problem,” Foster said.
“The recent warrant roundup has helped to deter the incidents that we were seeing prior to this operation. However, we continue our enforcement in those areas to combat future problems with our community policing initiative in mind,” McClurkin said. “The partnership that we are forming with the community is invaluable to solving these community issues. At this point it is too early to gauge the overall impact of our continued efforts to solve the problems that we saw in that area, but we know that our partnerships with the community and other law enforcement are key in fighting crime.”
An important factor in this round up is the community. Foster reminds community members that if they see something, say something, which he says is their catchphrase right now.
“While it may not seem like when a citizen calls in and says, ‘John Doe is selling dope, or John Doe is on the street corner shooting a gun.’ We cannot just arrest that person, we have to conduct an investigation and establish probable cause needed by the court in order to get an arrest warrant,” Foster said. “We also have to get enough information to ensure we get a conviction if we go to court.”
Foster added that those who have reported crimes in their neighborhoods have helped.
“No one knows the neighborhood like the neighbors,” he said.
Tips are kept anonymous, and Foster said they have a variety of ways to do so, either by telephone, tip line, or send through the website. Anyone wishing to leave an anonymous tip can do so by visiting midlandscrimestoppers.com, calling 1-888-CRIMESC or emailing email@example.com.