Sheriff Jamie Hamilton Is Guest Speaker For Dillon County Historical Society

By Betsy Finklea
Sheriff Jamie Hamilton was the guest speaker at the Dillon County Historical Society meeting on Thursday.
Hamilton shared the unique circumstances that led to him becoming the Sheriff. He began in law enforcement in May 1994, two months after his 21st birthday. The bulk of his experience is in narcotics. He also worked as a school resource officer, which he said was the best thing he did in law enforcement.

Sheriff Jamie Hamilton

Hamilton said he and the late Sheriff Douglas Pernell were friends, and he asked Hamilton that if he was elected if he would serve as chief deputy. Pernell was finally successful in his bid for Sheriff and took office in January of 2021. Two and a half years into his term, Pernell passed away at the age of 61. Pernell is the shortest serving elected Sheriff.
Hamilton recalled the details of the events of the day that Sheriff Pernell died, He said that while he was at Sheriff Pernell’s house, he was called by the South Carolina Sheriff’s Association and informed that he was the acting Sheriff of Dillon County. The office of Sheriff is one that cannot be vacant so according to the statute, Hamilton became the acting Sheriff on August 7, 2023.
On August 15th, Governor Henry McMaster appointed him as the interim Sheriff, Hamilton has had two elections in the past four months—a Democratic Primary in October and the General election in December. He has the potential to run four times in 12 months due to the fact that he is filling the remainder of Pernell’s term and Pernell would have run again this year. Hamilton is the 11th Sheriff since 1910.
Hamilton gave some facts about other Sheriff’s who had served. He said that the first Sheriff was Vernie Lane. He showed a picture of Lane on his horse and a headshot. Lane got 1,051 votes when he ran. He said the second Sheriff, Clyde Bethea, sometimes called the forgotten Sheriff, left office abruptly and the coroner became Sheriff from July 28, 1927 until August 3, 1927.
Both a father and a son served as Sheriffs—Pete Rogers and Greg Rogers. They also both served as Judges of Probate. One Sheriff was elected as State Senator–Dixon Lee. Harold Grice was the longest serving Sheriff. He shared many other facts and stories. The presentation was well-received by the members.

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