AIKEN - A dispatcher's voice crackling over the airwaves heralded the arrival of Aiken County's new sheriff Thursday.
"Aiken all units, Sheriff Jody Rowland 10-42, Sheriff Michael Hunt 10-41," the dispatcher said in the police lingo that signals the end and beginning of a tour of duty.
The broadcast was greeted with a roar of approval from listeners in a packed courtroom at the Aiken Judicial Center.
Sheriff Hunt, 41, was sworn in as Aiken County's 18th sheriff by Chief Magistrate Rodger Edmonds in front of friends, family and law enforcement officials. Later, he signed a standard mutual aid agreement with his old boss, Aiken Department of Public Safety Director Pete Frommer.
"The left hand has to know what the right hand is doing, and I think immediately people will see some results from the teamwork that will go on," Chief Frommer said after the ceremony.
Sheriff Hunt, a lieutenant under Chief Frommer and a 22-year police veteran, won a hard-fought Republican primary against Sheriff Rowland, who was appointed to the post by Gov. Mark Sanford when former Sheriff Howard Sellers left to take a job with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Sheriff Hunt has 12 months to make good on several ambitious campaign pledges before the next Republican primary
"Some things will take some time," Sheriff Hunt said.
He said he has already addressed one complaint of small-town police chiefs by linking the county's new 800-megahertz radio communications band to the 400-megahertz band used by smaller law enforcement departments. An electronic patch will enable dispatchers to relay broadcasts from one frequency to another.
The sheriff met with his newly assembled staff for the first time Thursday, including Chief Deputy Dwayne Courtney, a former colleague and a veteran homicide investigator.
Among their priorities: a reorganization of manpower to place a renewed emphasis on getting more of the department's 110 deputies on the road.
Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 279-6895.