Former Jackson County Sheriff, Mike Byrd, is back in the spotlight. Interim Sheriff Charles Britt has written a letter to the Mississippi Department of Corrections (M.D.O.C.) about Byrd possibly engaging in criminal activity, but some involved in the sheriff's office say writing a letter wasn't the right response.
When former Sheriff Byrd was sentenced, District Attorney Tony Lawrence said his goal was to remove Byrd from office and the sheriff's election process. Lawrence says, “The sheriff of this county should be decided by the people. They should decide who should be the next sheriff, and I think because of the actions that my office took, they will now get that choice.”
Interim Sheriff Britt says that hasn't been the case. Britt claims Byrd has been contacting several of his employees about the upcoming sheriff's race. Britt says, "Byrd was allegedly abusive in tone and language with threats that verged on criminal misconduct and a possible parole violation." Britt wrote a letter to Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner, Christopher Epps, explaining these threatening calls. The department of corrections has this to say in response: "We have received the letter and are looking into possible actions, but we cannot comment further at this time."
Someone who did comment on the recent development is Lt. Jeff Barnes, who ran against Byrd for the sheriff's seat several years ago and now serves with the Pascagoula Police Department. Barnes says Byrd is like any other inmate, either he broke the law or he didn't. Barnes says, “If one of his employees was threatened or harassed in any way, then the only thing he needs to do is notify M.D.O.C. that he's got a warrant for this inmate’s arrest.”
Barnes says by sending the letter, Britt handed off his duties to another agency. Barnes also says, “To me, it’s just like wanting someone else to take care of an issue so you don't seem like a bad person, and those days are over in this county.”
District Attorney Lawrence replied to Britt's letter with a similar tone. He says, “The letter you provided did not indicate sufficient details of the alleged wrongdoing to determine if a new crime was committed."
Britt was not immediately available for comment as to what his next step in the process will be. An anonymous source tells News 25 the candidate these phone calls have been about, is Byrd's relative, Mike Ezell, who plans to run for sheriff in the fall.