Sheriff departments stressing the importance of federal funding

Sheriff departments stressing the importance of federal funding
Federal grants needed for law enforcement. Photo credit WDAM

WAYNE COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Sheriffs carry a huge responsibility. They're selected by the people to lead their department safely and efficiently.

Two sheriffs in Wayne County and Jasper County have seen their hard work pay off recently. The citizens for whom they represent trust them. Both departments have recently received donations from the community.

In Wayne County, Sheriff Jody Ashley and his department have received bullet proof vests, and handguns. In Jasper county, sheriff Randy Johnson and his department have received tasers, and body cameras.

"The community here in Wayne county has been tremendous for this Sheriff's department," Ashley said.

"The majority of people want law enforcement," Johnson said. "They want us out here doing our job, and they want to reach out and help us any way they can."

The board of supervisors helps the departments with what they need, but they can't cover everything.

Federal grants play a huge part in providing law enforcement with the tools they need to do their jobs.

Wayne County continues to be aggressive in the fight against gangs and drugs, but outdated equipment could potentially slow them down one day.

"The tag readers would help, also new computers for the officers in their vehicles so they can do their reports," Ashley said. "Things like that are so crucial."

"I don't a lot of people realize all of the equipment that we need to do this," Ashley said. "It is a lot."

Over 50 miles away in Jasper County, Sheriff Johnson said he could use more resources for his department, but they make the best of what they have.

"I see people all the time and they say 'we need more deputies' and we do," Johnson said. "It costs so much money to get one deputy. When you pay a salary for year, and then you have to equip them with the car and things that go with it. You're talking about 70 or 80 thousand dollars for one person."

Sheriff Ashley told WDAM that his department is seeking assistance.

"We have applied for three grants," Ashley said. "We check on it daily."

In 2016 the Jones County sheriff's department received three grants. The amount was over $110,000.

Lance Chancellor with the Jones County Sheriff's Department admitted that it is a competitive process.

"Unfortunately, some of those funding levels have decreased in the past couple of years, and they are very competitive," Chancellor said. "It can also be very difficult and lengthy to fill out the applications."

While it is competitive, the agencies work together to make sure everyone is involved.

"Any time grant opportunities become available, we try to share that information so that every agency has the ability to apply," Chancellor said.