Jackson Co. Sheriff Candidates Speak to Citizens
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department has seen better days, but a special election is just a few months away, and the candidates met Thursday night to talk about cleaning up the department and respecting the badge. Jeff Barnes, a Lieutenant for the Pascagoula Police Department and a candidate for Sheriff, says, "There are still deputies right now that are employed, that should have been released when the last administration ran out, due to unprofessional conduct. Those deputies will be first on my list to leave the department."
After the firing of another deputy Wednesday night, making sure the Sheriff’s Department is staffed with qualified individuals is more important than ever, and every candidate is looking to make sure that if chosen, their department is clean. Scott McIlrath, Chief Investigator and Officer Manager for the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office and a Sheriff candidate, says, "When you come in and take over an investigation that has been demoralized to the point that this one is, the blemish that has been placed on the badge, there’s a certain amount of analysis that’s going to take place to make sure we have the right people in the right place.”
All the candidates for Sheriff have very different views and personalities, but can agree on two things: their love of the law and bringing the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department out of this dark time. Bruce Lynn, Training Coordinator for the Pascagoula Police Department and a Sheriff candidate, says, "There are still employees there, there’s no secret about this, there’s still employees there with integrity issues. Those employees will unfortunately have to be dealt with. When you lose your integrity in law enforcement, and with any walk of life, it’s hard to get it back."
The current Interim Sheriff, Charles Britt, took over for Mike Byrd after he resigned nine months ago. Britt says he has been working to rebuild the department and will continue to do so if elected in November. Britt closes, "Since I took over in January, we have had a turnover of over 30 personnel and there have been many reasons for that, but we’re rebuilding and we’re rebuilding with stronger, more skilled employees."
The special election is set for November 4th, and candidates ask that voters do their research and elect the best man to lead their Sheriff’s Department.