CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – History was made on Monday morning when Kristin Graziano was sworn-in as sheriff in Charleston County, becoming the first woman and openly LGBT person to be sworn in as sheriff in South Carolina.
Graziano defeated long-time sheriff Al Cannon in November, marking this the first time Charleston County has seen a new sheriff in more than 30 years.
The new sheriff was first sworn in privately by the Charleston County Clerk of Court before having a formal ceremony at the Old Historic Courthouse. There was limited attendance for family and friends to follow COVID-19 protocols.
Graziano has been in law enforcement for 32 years, 18 of those years have been spent with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
Graziano says during her more than three decade career in law enforcement, she has faced challenges and obstacles but says she’s ready to get to work.
“What a ride guys, what a ride,” says Sheriff Graziano. “I am incredibly humbled.”
In a year where very little was normal, the race for Charleston County sheriff was no exception.
“It was not an easy one, it was not normal whatever that is,” says Sheriff Graziano.
Graziano says much of her career has been spent breaking barriers and overcoming obstacles on her path to becoming the state’s first female sheriff.
“The past three decades in public service have been the most challenging and rewarding at the same time,” says Sheriff Graziano.
Hopes for more transparency and a stronger relationship with the Charleston County residents, Graziano says she’s up to the challenge to serving and protecting.
“They have hope that we restore the community’s faith and trust in our profession that we will work together to unify, protect and serve no matter what our differences,” says Sheriff Graziano.
Sheriff Graziano says she heard calls for change coming from across the county after more than a quarter-century without change.
“This community is resilient and that over 111,470 residents of this county showed that same narrative of hope,” says Sheriff Graziano.
New possibilities all coming in the weeks and months to follow as the Sheriff embarks in her new role.
“I have hope more than ever that we are going to be just fine,” says Sheriff Graziano.
During her 18 years with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Graziano has served as a member and trainer for the SWAT team. She also designed and implemented a uniform response code for active shooter scenarios for Charleston County Schools that has been used as a model for the entire state.
An issue Graziano says she will face immediately is losing experienced employees.
“To fill those gaps we want to bring them up and we want them to be successful, so one of the programs that we’ll start immediately is supervisory training,” Sheriff-elect Kristin Graziano stated.
Law enforcement under the new administration will be sworn in throughout the day on Tuesday and Al Cannon Detention Center employees will be sworn in throughout the week beginning Wednesday.
Graziano says she looks forward to bringing more transparency and accountability to Charleston as well as repairing bonds with the black and Latin community which will be a primary focus in her first 100 days as sheriff.
Since being elected, Graziano says she is ready to hit the ground running.
“People need to know that we’re getting where we need to be and we’re getting there probably quicker than I anticipated, but it has not been easy and I will continue to stay the course,” Graziano mentioned.
Graziano will officially take over the sheriff’s office at midnight.