Lights focused on officers at annual seniors luncheon in Florence

May 11, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Light shined down upon officers from the Florence Police Department and deputies from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office at the 15th annual Senior Citizens Association Dorothy Blackwell Luncheon Friday afternoon.

At the end of the program at the Leatherman Senior Center, those attending the luncheon were given key-ring flashlights with the Senior Citizens Association logo and the phrase “Back the Badge.”

Back the Badge was the theme of the luncheon.

Then, the lights in the room were turned off and those attending were asked to shine their flashlights on the officers attending the luncheon while chanting “Back the Badge.”

Among the officers attending were Florence police Sgt. Scott Williamson, Lance Cpl. Travis Scott, and Florence County Sheriff’s Deputy Arie Davis.

Williamson, Scott and Davis were among the seven officers injured on Oct. 3 when deputies came under fire as they tried to serve a warrant in the Vintage Place subdivision. Three deputies from the sheriff’s office and four officers from the Florence Police Department were shot, and two died: sheriff’s investigator Farrah Turner and Florence police Sgt. Terrence Carraway.

State Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. presented a plaque to the Florence Police Department at the luncheon.

“Law enforcement, we can’t say thank you enough times for what you do,” Leatherman said. “You go out there every day and never know what you’re going to face. I say quite often what a job that must be. You leave home every day and you don’t know if you’ll come back at night. Thank you for everything you do.”

Leatherman said he agreed with County Council Chairman Waymon Mumford, who also spoke at the ceremony, that everyone should back the badge and support police officers.

Leatherman, a Republican, represents Senate District 31 which includes most of Florence County and two small pieces of eastern Darlington County. He was previously the president pro tempore of the Senate before the position was changed to president. Leatherman elected to continue to serve as chairman of the Finance Committee rather than seeking the position of president. He has served as a senator since 1981.

Mumford, who was elected county council chairman in January, presented a plaque to the sheriff’s department at the luncheon.

He began his speech by quoting Matthew 5:9-11.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” Mumford said. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

Mumford, who served in the Florence Police Department for 25 years, also shared an experience he had while working as an investigator.

A call came across the radio that a convenience store was being robbed. Then, a car stopped beside a patrol car Mumford and his partner were sitting in and someone in the car told them that another store was being robbed nearby.

Mumford and his partner rushed to the scene and found two robbers, one with a pistol and one with a rifle.

The robbers fled into a nearby building and Mumford’s partner chased the robber with the pistol, leaving Mumford with the robber with the rifle. He got the robber cornered and told him several times to drop the rifle.

The man refused to comply.

Mumford knew he was going to have to shoot the robber.

“I would have been justified in doing so,” he said.

Taking a life didn’t sit too well with Mumford. So he decided to use his “expert shooting” and shoot the robber in the leg.

“Well, I missed,” Mumford said.

But the shot caused the robber to drop the rifle.

After apprehending the robber, Mumford learned that he was deaf and couldn’t understand Mumford’s instructions.

He said he thanked God every day for helping him not to take that robber’s life.

Later, when Mumford was working at the detention center, the robber came back and thanked him for saving his life.

The luncheon also featured food prepared by La Tasha McCutcheon, a Lake City native who won the 13th season of “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Blackwell was the association’s first executive director, holding the title from 1969 when the association was founded as the Florence County Council on Aging until 1986.

The Senior Citizens Association of Florence County is a private, nonprofit organization that relies on grants, donations, contributions, membership fees and volunteers to provide services and assistance to Florence County senior citizens.