Clark sworn in as sheriff

By Nicole Daughhetee
Courier Staff

EASLEY — Rick Clark, Pickens County’s first new sheriff in more than 40 years, was ceremoniously sworn in and took his oath of office before a large audience at Rock Springs Baptist Church during the church’s evening service Sunday.

Delivering the oath of office was Pickens County Judge Eddie Welmaker, and standing beside Clark holding the Bible upon which he placed his hand was his supportive wife Tani.

Senator Larry Martin and Representatives Davey Hiott and Phil Owens were also present for the ceremony, along with approximately 20 members of the sheriff’s office staff — those who will make up Clark’s team of first responders and deputies.

Dr. David Gallamore, pastor of Rock Springs, welcomed congregants and guests. He recognized the team of first responders from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, having them stand so they could all be applauded for the service they perform in the community.

“This is something we’ve not ever done before,” Gallamore said. “Maybe God will let the next governor, maybe the next president, will come out of Rock Springs.

“This is a special night for Rick Clark. We pray for him and all of our other elected officials.”

Following Clark’s swearing in, he was given the opportunity to address the congregation and audience members. Clark is a member of Rock Springs Baptist Church and relished the chance to take his oath of office at the church he calls home.

“You don’t know what it means to stand in this pulpit,” Clark said. “It is unique to be doing this in a church, and there is no better place than Rock Springs. In our society today we will be relying on God more and more. Rock Springs has been a sanctuary to me — a place where I’ve felt protected from all the slings, barbs and arrows thrown at me over the last several months.”

Clark thanked all the members of his team — everyone working in the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office — for all of their hard work and dedication.

“I’m so proud of you. You are all great public servants. Thanks to all you do, Pickens County is a great place,” said Clark. “I hope to make it better, and we will do it through God.”

Clark acknowledged the challenges the members of his team face in fighting crime ranging from domestic violence calls to robberies and dealing with people suffering with mental illness. Reading from Galatians 6:2-6:9, Clark encouraged congregants to never forget the sheriff’s office is doing good.

“What kind of sheriff’s office do we want to be?” asked Clark. “Maybe we can be praying for the people we have picked up as we drive them to the law enforcement center. Maybe we are praying that God will turn their lives around. Maybe we are praying that they can see God through us.”

Toward the close of his message, Clark said that with his swearing in, he really becomes the least important person in the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office.

“Those working dispatch, those working in the detention center, those who respond to (criminal domestic violence) calls — it is you who are the most important in our office, because in everything you do, you are serving others,” he said.

Clark ended his message with the recitation of what he called the Deputy’s Prayer.

“When I start my tour of duty God, wherever crime may be, as I walk the darkened streets alone, let me be close to Thee. Please give me understanding with both the young and old, let me listen with attention, until their story’s told,” said Clark. “Let me never make a judgment in a rash or callous way, but let me hold my patience, let each man have his say. Lord, if some dark and dreary night, I must give up my life, Lord, with your understanding love, protect my children and wife.”