Sheriff seeks justice
March 8, 2019 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer
Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell believes in the principles of fair-mindedness and trustworthiness when it comes to protecting a county covering more than 1,100 square miles.
It is his concern for respectfully keeping the peace that led the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative to honor him for his commitment to justice.
It is an award that he was honored to receive.
"It felt good. It's good to be nominated and selected for anything nowadays. So I just appreciate the nomination and those that selected me," Ravenell said.
He said the award actually honors the entire staff at the Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office.
What does justice mean to him?
"For what I do, it means everything just to get justice for people that have been victimized. That means everything to not only myself, but I pass that down to everybody that works here. Our main goal, hopefully, is to try to keep people safe and keep things from happening. But when things do happen, we try to get justice," Ravenell said.
He has served as sheriff for a little more than seven years.
He started off with the Santee Police Department before coming to the sheriff’s office as a deputy and working his way up to his current position.
"I've been working here in Orangeburg County for 31 years. It's been a blessing," Ravenell said.
He’s the recipient of many awards, including his designation as the 2013 Sheriff of the Year by the South Carolina Sheriff's Association.
He said it is important to seek justice and fairness for everyone.
"Everybody's not as fortunate as others. Orangeburg County, for example, is 1,100 square miles. In every part of Orangeburg County you have different people and, to me, although we know that they're different, I look at everybody the same.
"I have to bring justice to the eastern part just as well as the western part. So, for me, seeing everybody that's been victimized, it's about trying to put a smile on their face and trying to not let them be victimized twice by criminals and by the system," Ravenell said.
He takes pride in how the sheriff’s office has worked to root out crime at the Roosevelt Gardens apartment complex in Orangeburg. He said it’s critical for him to make the area safer for young and old alike. A community fun day is being planned at the complex on March 30.
Ravenell said the sheriff’s office implemented a "Know Us Before You Need Us" program about three years ago.
He and his command staff "go out to different meetings around the county and let people ask questions. That really helps. You get a lot of good and you get a lot of bad, but that's what you need. You need to know what's going on in the community.”
Ravenell and his wife, Angela, are the parents of two sons ages 10 and 13. He takes pride in making sure justice is carried out at home as well.
"Even with my wife and my kids, like everybody else, I try to keep them safe. I tell people all the time that when I get up in the morning, that's my goal to definitely keep them safe. But my thing is I know that I'm responsible for over 100,000 people. So it goes along with that," Ravenell said.
He added, "I have to give my wife and my boys credit for having patience. You know, waiting at home, or doing things, like my wife doing homework with the kids. ... I have to give her credit for that."
Why does he believe in justice so much?
"I think that comes from my upbringing. It's well known that I was brought up in a home with domestic violence. You see people like my mom, who was always there trying to protect me and my brothers. Then, you have people to come in like law enforcement and do different things. But, I do it a little different because I still sit down now and talk to those people who are going through the same thing that I went through. So I think it has a lot to do with my upbringing," Ravenell said.
He doesn't believe in giving up on anything or anyone.
"Everything can change because with all that I went through in my life with my parents, both of my parents are still here. Today, my mother's 90 and my father's 87, and they get along like two teenagers. You never give up. People say sometimes you’ve got to give up on certain things. So I kind of keep that in the back of my mind: Never give up on anything. We're always in a position where we can bring justice," Ravenell said.
Even with the turmoil he witnessed at home in Santee's Jack Branch community, he said his parents, Ed and Lucille, helped to instill character in him and his four brothers.
"They always would, especially my mom, make sure we had manners and treat people right. Neither one of my parents ever had to come and bail any one of us out. I have four brothers, and we've never been behind bars. ... Even with the things that my father did, you can see and tell that he didn't want us to do them," Ravenell said.
The sheriff is working to instill character in his own children.
"Growing up, I knew my father loved us, but I never heard it coming from his mouth. Today, I tell my sons every day. I kiss them on the forehead. They're 13 and 10, and I tell them that I love them every morning before I drop them off at school. We have our days to do a prayer. So it's those types of things. I tell them don't follow the crowd. Be yourself, live your life, just do the right things. Kids are kids, but my wife and I have been pretty much satisfied with them so far, thank God," he said, smiling.