Sheriff candidate Davis hammers Hodge, Tedford in fiery speech
In a sheriff’s race where the challengers have seemed reluctant to deliver anything more than soft jabs at a damaged incumbent, candidate Macon Davis finally took off the gloves and delivered some haymakers in a speech at a Citizens Against Corruption meeting at the Myrick Community Center on Thursday night.
Davis, a 24-year law enforcement veteran, repeatedly told the modest crowd that the problem with the sheriff’s department is “poor leadership.”
“I will be a working sheriff and one that is willing to lead the way,” Davis said. He went on to add that he would be the first person to “vest up” to lead his team when it came to a dangerous situation.
The former deputy said that Jones County is overrun by drug use.
“Ninety percent of the roads in the county have a drug dealer or drug users” living on them and he plans to put together a narcotics team to battle the problem.
But Davis was just getting started. He went on to address a number of issues that have been brought to light about the JCSD recently.
“Indictments must be served and the buck stops with the sheriff. Ultimately, it lies at his feet,” Davis said about the 18 felons who have walked free in the past year because of the JCSD’s lack of timely service.
Davis passionately asked, “What about the victims of these crimes that did not get served? I say they are important. The sheriff does not have the option to say ‘I can’t get it done.’ Cases are being tossed out and these victims get nothing.”
Davis went on to add, “The sheriff himself should be the first one to grab indictments and make sure they get served. He shouldn’t think he is too good to do the task himself.”
Sheriff Alex Hodge wasn’t the only one Davis blasted. He took second-in-command Maj. Jamie Tedford to task as well.
“The fact that someone from the sheriff’s department would laugh about planting drugs on persons is unacceptable. It jeopardizes the integrity of the entire office and it is ridiculous. A seasoned lawman should know this,” Davis said in reference to Tedford thinking it was funny when a Facebook user suggested planting drugs on Leader-Call employees.
But most of Davis’ roundhouse blows were directed at Hodge. In regard to an ongoing investigation of the sheriff and the department by the state auditor’s office, Davis said, “If there are improprieties in payroll issues, there are (most likely) improprieties in other areas. If there is a whole lot of smoke, there is a little fire somewhere.”
In regard to the huge budget and massive tax increases that the current sheriff wants, Davis said, “Putting more money into the sheriff’s office is not the answer. He already has a larger budget than anyone else has ever had. There is enough money to hire the appropriate amount of deputies.”
Davis made it clear that there are ways to cut expenses that would allow for an effective JCSD without the sheriff ramming through “tax increases like we’ve never seen before.” Davis’ plan calls for bringing back the auxiliary deputies that past administrations used, saying “That’s the answer to manpower issues. These would be the same caliber of people as our volunteer fireman,” which brought an extended round of applause from the audience.
Davis also said that he would reinstate the deputizing of officers from other agencies, such as the Laurel, Ellisville and Sanderville police departments. That was done in the past and all law enforcement should be working together to help secure all of Jones County, he said.
Although he didn’t address the sheriff’s $37,000-a-year Public Information Officer, he did say that the sheriff shouldn’t be about “look what I did” or want the “largest office in the state.” He added, “Under the current budget, I don’t know that we have the money to keep three armored vehicles. We can get an armored vehicle from Jackson if we need it.”
Davis said he would prefer his deputies to live in Jones County, but if they don’t, he would institute a policy that “unless they were on call,” they were not to use their taxpayer-funded vehicles and fuel outside of Jones County. He did say that he did not expect to “clean house,” but “you can expect a change in the top two or three in command.”
In response to an audience member lamenting that if Hodge was re-elected he was “moving out” of Jones County, Davis responded, “It can’t keep going the way it is. We are in dire straits. The sheriff and school board are close to the two biggest expenditures we have, and we can’t hand him an open checkbook.” As to what he perceived his relationship would be with the Board of Supervisors, Davis said, “Me and the supervisors will not line up perfectly, but I know there is only so much money to go around.” No matter what the budget is, “You don’t have the option to say, ‘We just can’t do that,’” Davis said. “Too much is at stake. I think the sheriff should bend over backwards to work with the supervisors.”
As Davis reiterated through-out the night, “It boils down to leadership.”
Beat 3 supervisor candidates Donald Holifield, Johnny Wright and Phil Dickerson, and Justice Court Judge candidates Stacy Walls (District 3) and Marian Allen (District 1) also spoke at the meeting.
Davis will once again headline the next Citizens Against Corruption meeting, which will be at 6:30 p.m. June 20 at the Calhoun Community Center. Other speakers that night will include candidates Glen Musgrove (Justice Court Judge District 1),
Larry Dykes (Supervisor Beat 2), Grant Hedgepeth (Justice Court Judge District 1), Mike Strickland (Supervisor Beat 2) and George Carmichael (Supervisor Beat 5).