Sumter Sheriff's office strikes big

Deputies win awards during weeklong annual campaign

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Sumter County Sheriff's Office's team won big during the 2017 Operation Strike Force campaign held in Florence County.

The annual campaign required teams from 14 law-enforcement agencies throughout the state to patrol Interstates 20 and 95 and stop vehicles for speeding and other violations.

The campaign began on Sunday night, Oct. 1, and ended on Friday morning.

During the week, officers seized more than $360,000 in U.S. currency; multiple pounds of marijuana, crack cocaine and other drugs; multiple weapons, some that were stolen; and arrested two fugitives.

Money seized during the operation will be divided among the participating agencies.

The Sumter team, consisting of Senior Cpl. D'mitry Brown, Cpl. Olivia Gibson, Senior Cpl. Albert Harvin, Senior Cpl. Evan Rogerson, Sgt. Bryan Rulong and Staff Sgt. Jason Tassone, is responsible for seizing nearly half of the money collected during the operation.

In addition to Sumter County winning the overall team award, Staff Sgt. Tassone received an award for conducting the largest currency seizure of $73,000 on Tuesday. He was also named Interdiction Officer of the Week for his efforts.

Sgt. Rulong was awarded for making the largest currency seizure of the day on Wednesday, with $140,000 seized. He was also recognized for making the largest seizure of the week.

Tassone was awarded an AR-15 firearm, and Rulong received a 9 mm Glock model 43 pistol. Other team members were presented with gift bags containing T-shirts, gift cards and other prizes.

Tassone, a member of the sheriff's office's K-9 Unit, said the operation was a joint effort between agencies in Sumter, Florence and Darlington counties to reduce traffic deaths on the interstates and seek out criminal elements traveling along those roadways.

"It's the same job we do every day," Tassone said.

Tassone said it is an honor to receive recognition during the operation, and he thanks Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis for allowing Sumter deputies to participate. He also thanked Florence and Darlington counties for hosting the operation.

Sgt. Rulong said the campaign is a very good networking tool used to suppress criminal activity on interstates, which are known to be the main corridors for some illegal activities.

He said he was glad that the sheriff's office's team was recognized as team of the week after making some good cases during the operation.

Sheriff Dennis said he is proud of the team for its accomplishment.

"We constantly train, and the training is paying off," he said. "I am proud that our deputies brought back the overall top team trophy."

This is another fine example of what can happen when law enforcement agencies work together, Dennis said. "We set the bar high for our deputies, and they responded well. We are extremely proud of them and the job they do."