The name of ex-Lexington County Sheriff James Metts will be erased soon from the law enforcement complex he once supervised, key County Council members say.
“It’s definitely certain his name is coming off,” said Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo, who supported the move to name it for Metts in 2007.
The only question is how soon that will happen.
Some of the nine council members want to take Metts’ name off immediately, after he was prepared to plead guilty to conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants at the jail in a plea agreement that wasn’t accepted in federal court.
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For county leaders, that is an admission of guilt, even though it can’t be used against Metts in his trial, which is slated to start Jan. 12.
“I’m ready to go on this (repeal) after that,” said Councilman Bill Banning of West Columbia, who also supported naming the complex in the town of Lexington for Metts.
But others want to wait to see whether Metts is convicted of any of the federal corruption charges he is battling.
“We should wait for this to play itself out,” said Councilman Todd Cullum of Cayce, who opposed putting Metts’ name on the complex. “I don’t want to rush to judgment.”
It’s unclear how soon the change will come, but it will happen, Jeffcoat said.
“It was done to honor him (Metts) for his decades of service,” he said of the former sheriff’s 42 years in charge of county law enforcement.
But the good will that propelled the gesture “disappeared when he was indicted,” Jeffcoat said.
There’s no similar push yet among county lawmakers to remove Metts’ name from a boat landing on the lower Saluda River near his home.
The situation again shows that naming anything after living political leaders is always ticklish, said State Rep. Kenny Bingham, a Cayce Republican.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “People should be recognized, but there are plenty of other ways of doing that.”