WAYNE COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Several churches in Wayne County presented the Wayne County Sheriff's Department with a donation Sunday to help keep the community safe.
Pastors and members from local churches presented the department with check donations, which totaled over $2,000. The money will used to purchase new guns for deputies. Right now, all deputies use their own personal weapons on duty. The revolvers the department has were purchased over 30 years ago.
"It's a safety issue," said Sheriff Jody Ashley. "This is a 40-caliber here. Say your partner has a 45-caliber and you have a 40. You get in a gun battle and you run out of ammunition, you're done."
The Sheriff said the department does not have a budget for equipment, something he said he was aware of when the took over in Wayne County. Sheriff Ashley said money is tight in a lot of areas, so being able to get help from the community is humbling.
"We are here to protect and serve; they turn around and help us to," Ashley said. "This is a unified effort, everyone working together. "
The local churches presented checks from donations they received from their parishioners. Sheriff Ashley said they expect to receive more donations in the coming days.
Steve Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church, said his church wants to make sure deputies are prepared.
"They are dealing with the most difficult situations that we have," Smith said. "And we want to make sure they are safe and make our county a better place to live."
Former Wayne County Supervisor Fred Andrews echoed that feeling. Andrews, a member of the Progress Assembly of God Church, presented the check for his church Sunday.
"When they go out to make an arrest, they are dealing with the very worst of people," Andrews said. "They need to be protected however we can protect them."
Last year, churches and individuals donated about $30,000 for equipment. That money was used to purchase 14 ballistic vests and body cameras for deputies. Sheriff Ashley said he hopes to buy 10 guns with donations. Those 10 guns would give his full-time deputies the same weapon to use on duty.
"Doing this job, it's not about the money. It's in your heart," said Ashley. "By doing this, it just shows they care and we really appreciate that."