'It's been a great career': Loftis reflects days before end of t - FOX Carolina 21

'It's been a great career': Loftis reflects days before end of tenure as sheriff

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Sheriff Steve Loftis reflects on his 42-year law enforcement career (Dec. 28, 2016-FOX Carolina)) Sheriff Steve Loftis reflects on his 42-year law enforcement career (Dec. 28, 2016-FOX Carolina))

Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis was reflective as he remembered the exact date he was thrust into public office after his predecessor, Sheriff Sam Simmons, suddenly passed away. 

"The first day that I walked in and sat behind this desk, after about two hours I thought 'Gracious, what have you gotten yourself into," said Loftis. He reflected also on his time as a law enforcement officer under then-sheriff Simmons. "I always had a boss before that, but all of the sudden, I didn't have a boss. The buck stopped with me."

Loftis remembers other key dates during his tenure, like April 2, 2003. That's the day one of his deputies, Investigator Antonio "Joe" Sapinoso, was shot and killed along with his father. Later that same year, another of his deputies would be killed. Andrew Mazur died in August 2003 after an altercation with a suspect. Then in 2015, Deputy Dave Dempsey was shot and seriously injured in the line of duty.

"Those times are extremely tough. There really are not words in Webster's to describe situations like that," said Loftis. 

Loftis was unseated earlier this year by former deputy Will Lewis. 

Now, as he passes the baton to a new leader, Loftis said he is optimistic. 

"I feel certain that [the sheriff's office] will remain progressive. I think Sheriff-elect Lewis will do a good job. I have been working with him for several weeks trying to make the transition as smooth as possible," he said. 

During his tenure, Loftis's office has participated heavily in the South Carolina Special Olympics. He also said he is proud of work his office has accomplished with victims of domestic abuse as well as improving mental healthcare for law enforcement officers after traumatic incidents at work. He also touted a better relationship between the sheriff's office and Greenville County Council, one he said was at times strained when he took office. 

"I think that is what has gotten us today to a $67 million budget just for the sheriff's office. Council has given public safety a priority in Greenville County," he said. 

Asked if he plans on working in public service later, Loftis said "I haven't thought about it too much." He did, however, say he will not run for sheriff again. Still, after 42 years in law enforcement, he said turning off the "light switch' of his career will be difficult. 

Loftis said he will take January and February off to relax and work on his golf game. His last day as Sheriff is Jan. 2.

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