Shooting concerns

One of the Jones County Sheriff’s Department armored vehicles.

Sheriff Alex Hodge has attempted to remove cameras, computers, cars — even a canine — from the department’s inventory, but the Board of Supervisors has denied his requests, according to documents obtained by the Leader-Call.

In the most recent board meeting, Hodge wasn’t present when supervisors denied his request to remove five Nikon cameras, 10 computers, a thermal imager and the K9 officer Zedd from the department’s inventory. The reason for the removal, according to the letter signed by Hodge, is that all of the equipment was either obsolete or not working and the Belgian malinois had been “retired to handler.”

In the first meeting of October, Hodge requested that a Chevrolet Tahoe and thousands of dollars’ worth of highway interdiction equipment used for drug enforcement be transferred to Jasper County. The board denied that request, too.

Board members were heard saying that the decision to discard or transfer equipment — whether it’s valuable or worthless — should be made by the new sheriff. Hodge was denied in his bid for a fourth term by Macon Davis, who won 58 percent of the vote in the Republican primary runoff. Davis will face Independent Joe Berlin in the General Election on Tuesday and the winner will take office in January.

Since his defeat, rumors have swirled about Hodge transferring equipment to other departments. 

When asked about that, board attorney and Chief Administrative Officer Danielle Ashley provided a rule that applies to all county departments, not only the sheriff’s department.

It states that “all inventory requests (transfers, removal, additions) have to be approved by the Board, so nothing should be moved, transferred, destroyed, etc., without the Board’s permission.”

Hodge’s most recent request also included the transfer of seven SCBA biohazard breathing units back to the Jones County Emergency Operations Center, where they had originally been assigned, according to the letter. That was also denied.

In the first meeting of October, there was some discussion about whether constables or deputies would provide security in Jones County Justice Court. It was stated and reported that constables, by statute, are charged with providing security in justice court. 

Justice court officials, however, later provided a 2012 Attorney General’s opinion that states: “ … although the justice court judge may, by order, appoint the constable as bailiff, it remains the duty of the sheriff to provide security for the courtroom.”

AG opinions are non-binding.

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