Former Sheriff Ray Nash wants to be the top cop in Dorchester County again.
Nash said Tuesday he is challenging Sheriff L.C. Knight for the Republican nomination for sheriff.
“I never really thought I would be thinking that again,” said Nash, 55, who held the post for 12 years but did not seek re-election in 2008. Knight has been sheriff since then.
Nash cited the county’s violent crime rate and low morale in the department as his main reasons for running.
“No sheriff can prevent 100 percent of crime or 100 percent of murders, but this spike that we’ve seen is frightening,” said Nash, who also served as police chief in Summerville and Irmo.
“I know what some of the answers are.”
The number of homicides in Dorchester County has gone from about 1 in 100,000 in 2009 to 13 in 100,000 now, Nash said.
In addition, he said, “So many deputies, former and current, have shared their frustration with the current lack of leadership and have strongly encouraged my return to duty.”
In September, when county coroner Chris Nisbet was suspended by Gov. Nikki Haley after he was indicted on a misconduct charge, the Dorchester County Republican Party Executive Committee recommended Nash as his replacement. Haley instead selected chief deputy coroner Alice Durr to serve as the interim.
“It’s a fair assessment to say that got me thinking about getting back into public service,” Nash said.
“The whole coroner’s thing got me more engaged with what’s really going on in the county.”
Knight said he recently heard that Nash was planning to run, but, “I’m not getting into a he-said, who-said, whatever.
“Everybody’s got a right to follow their dream.”
Since retiring as sheriff, Nash has continued to be involved in law enforcement leadership programs around the world and is currently president of Police Dynamics Institute, a leadership training program.
He also ran for the 1st Congressional District seat vacated by Tim Scott’s appointment to the U.S. Senate but didn’t make the GOP runoff.
Filing for the office is March 16 to March 30. The primary will be June 14.
Nash plans to kick off his campaign at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Coastal Coffee Roasters, 108 E. 3rd N. St. in Summerville.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 843-937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.