Turn in your ex for Valentine's Day? S.C. sheriff's office Facebook post goes viral

In addition to garnering major attention, the post has already led to some credible leads, the sheriff said


By Andrew Dys
The Herald         

CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — A Facebook post by a sheriff's office in a rural South Carolina county urging people to turn in their ex for Valentine's Day has gone viral.

Many commenters say the post is hilarious, but others including defense lawyers say there is nothing funny about victims of crime and someone going to jail.

The posting has been shared and liked more than 1,200 times, with hundreds of comments.

The post put up Tuesday by the Chester County Sheriff's Office on its public Facebook page advertises a "Valentines and Crimes Sweepstakes" and asks people to call deputies about an ex's outstanding arrest warrants or criminal activity. 

Palm trees and beach umbrellas have been added to a photo of the county jail, where "winners [will] receive a minimum one-night vacation," the post reads. 

"Act fast and your ex will also receive an exclusive orange jumpsuit on us," the post continues.

Feedback both positive, negative

Several commenters called the posting hilarious, funny, and other positive feedback.

"Priceless!" one commenter said.

Yet others commented that being arrested is a serious issue and the posting shows a disconnect between police and the public they serve.

William Frick, 6th Circuit Public Defender, told The Herald Wednesday in an interview he and his office saw the post and find it inappropriate and not funny at all. The public defender's office represents most criminal defendants in cases in Chester County, Frick said.

"I don't understand how incarceration is humorous," Frick said.

Former 6th Circuit Public Defender Mike Lifsey, who retired from the office in 2021 and is now a private lawyer, agreed that making light of someone being arrested is ridiculous and joking about it is not professional.

"Being arrested is life altering, serious business," Lifsey said. "To make light of that is unprofessional. I think the sheriff's office ought to leave comedy to the comedians and concentrate on doing their jobs."

Geoff Dunn, a private lawyer from Chester, said crime should not be the butt of online jokes. Victims and those accused of serious crimes deserve serious treatment, Dunn said.

"Making light of domestic violence is never appropriate by those in power to affect a person's liberty," Dunn said. "It is a traumatic event for the victims. It is also traumatic for those who are arrested and jailed on false accusations."

Sheriff defends post

Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey said in a telephone interview with The Herald Wednesday he approved the post done by staff. The service of arrest warrants that are outstanding is an important job to protect public safety, Dorsey said. Finding people wanted by law enforcement for crimes is a crucial part of law enforcement's commitment to public safety, Dorsey said.

The posting has led in less than 24 hours to credible information given to law enforcement about the whereabouts of people wanted by law enforcement on outstanding warrants. Dorsey said. Dorey did not give details about what cases were involved in information sent to deputies since the post went up.

Dorsey said the serious message was done in a humorous way to garner attention.

"In the end, it was a way to get the message out and it worked," Dorsey said. "What it boils down to is what does it take to get the message out."

The sheriff's office regularly posts about other public safety and public service issues, Dorsey said. But this post has attracted far more attention than those other posts, Dorsey said.

Dorsey said the posting does use comedy to convey the message, but he does not apologize for it. The majority of comments have been positive, Dorsey said.

"No matter what we do there is always going to be a critic," Dorsey said. "For those who are offended, they don't have to read it."

Chester sheriff office in public eye

Chester County is a rural county of about 32,000 people between Rock Hill and Columbia. The sheriff's office in Chester has been under public scrutiny for almost three years.

Former Chester County sheriff Alex Underwood and two former top deputies await sentencing in federal court after all three were convicted in a 2021 trial on corruption and other charges.

Underwood could face as much as four years in prison, court documents show.

Underwood was suspended from office in May 2019 when he and the other two deputies were indicted by federal prosecutors. Dorsey, a former State Law Enforcement Division agent from Chester, was appointed by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster as sheriff in May 2019.

In November 2020, Dorsey was elected by the public to serve a four-year term after he defeated Underwood in the sheriff election.

In May 2021, a fugitive sought by Chester deputies for several shootings was captured after several days in a story that became national when the suspect and another defendant were accused of murders and shootings in Chester County, York County, and Missouri.
 
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