Haley selects ex-Berkeley chief deputy to be interim sheriff

Berkeley County interim Sheriff C. W. “Butch” Henerey

A former chief deputy from the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office will serve as sheriff until someone can be elected to the post, Gov. Nikki Haley announced Wednesday.

C.W. “Butch” Henerey, who retired last year after a career with the agency that started on the same day in 1995 that Wayne DeWitt became sheriff, will lead the office until June. The Moncks Corner resident is not expected to run during a special election set for June to fill the slot vacated when DeWitt resigned Feb. 4.

DeWitt was indicted a day later on misdemeanor charges of drunken driving, leaving the scene of a crash and failing to stop for blue lights stemming from his Dec. 28 arrest that was captured on video.

“I have known Sheriff Henerey for a long time,” Berkeley County Supervisor Bill Peagler said Wednesday. “(He) is truly a man of integrity who I know will provide tremendous service to the people of Berkeley County. Due to the uncertainty of the past couple months, Sheriff Henerey’s knowledge of the department and personnel will give the Sheriff’s Office stability until the special election is complete.”

Peagler suggested Henerey to the governor’s office on the day DeWitt resigned, said Berkeley County spokesman Michael Mule.

Peagler also suggested Chief Deputy Rick Ollic, who was acting as interim sheriff until Haley’s decision Wednesday, and Calvitt “Chab” Clarke, a retired agent with the State Law Enforcement Division who was recommended by the county’s legislative delegation, he said.

Clarke withdrew his name because he is considering a run for sheriff, Sen. Paul Campbell said Wednesday. Ollic also has said he is pondering running. “(Henerey) is a terrific choice,” Campbell said. “I’m proud to say he did a terrific job backing up Wayne, and I think he’ll do a wonderful job as the interim sheriff. That’s a quality selection.”

Sheriff’s officials said last year that Henerey had retired from the agency, but the S.C. Justice Academy has no record of his departure, according to Academy spokeswoman Florence McCants.

Haley’s executive order Wednesday morning called Henerey a “fit and proper” person to take over. The order went into effect immediately.

Henerey said he is eager to get started.

“The Sheriff’s Office will continue to operate under national accreditation policies and standards,” he said. “We will continue to protect and serve our citizens. ... And, we will ensure our agency is prepared for a smooth transition to a newly elected sheriff.”

A Vietnam War veteran and an honors graduate from the Criminal Justice Academy, Henerey has spent about 35 years in law enforcement.

His first day at the Sheriff’s Office was Jan. 3, 1995, the same day DeWitt was sworn in as sheriff for the first time, according to academy records.

He worked for two years before that at the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office and for about five years before that as a North Charleston police officer. He also had been a special deputy for seven years at the U.S. Marshals Service.

So far, seven candidates have said they plan to enter the Republican primary for the special election. DeWitt is also a Republican.

Candidates can file for eligibility between Friday and March 2. The primary for the race is scheduled for April 21. If a runoff is needed, it will be May 5. The special election is set for June 9.

Those who have said they plan to run include Trooper Marty Housand of the S.C. Highway Patrol; Lt. Brian Adams of the North Charleston Police Department; Lt. Danny Isgett of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office; Santee Cooper Law Enforcement Deputy Chief Duane Lewis; Charleston County Aviation Authority police officer and former Berkeley County Deputy Jerry Merrithew; Moncks Corner Police Chief Chad Caldwell; and Bonneau Police Chief Franco Fuda.

DeWitt’s elected successor will serve the rest of what would have been his sixth term in office. He was re-elected in November.

Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede. Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.