Some non-certified ACSO personnel are driving take-home vehicles from office

Published 12:06 am Friday, July 24, 2015

NATCHEZ — Secretaries aren’t driving take-home vehicles for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, but some non-certified personnel are.

Sometimes during campaign events, candidates make statements that deserve a closer look. The Natchez Democrat is taking that closer look at some of the statements candidates made at recent voter forums.

Today’s question looks at an assertion made during the sheriff’s race about the assignment of take-home vehicles to sheriff’s office employees.

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When the three Democratic candidates for sheriff were asked during a recent forum about how they would tackle the sheriff’s office’s budget, candidate Randy Freeman said one thing he would change would be, “Secretaries driving cars.”

Candidate Travis Patten likewise said at the forum he would eliminate take-home vehicles issued to some employees.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said at the forum no secretaries drive vehicles and only certified officers are issued vehicles.

“We do have a certified officer who works in the front office, but she is subject to call,” he said.

Freeman said this week when he said “secretaries” he meant front office and administrative personnel who do not serve in patrol or investigative capacities. He declined to name specific officers on the record.

“I want to be clear that when I say this I am not saying I will get rid of that officer who is driving that car, just that I will get rid of that car,” Freeman said. “You can take the money used in the budget and put back in the cost of maintenance and fuel and use that money to give everybody a raise.”

Mayfield said this week he does have non-certified officers who are assigned cars. The certification in this case is Peace Officer Standards and Training certification, a 10-week course that ends with a state-issued certificate.

Non-POST certified officers assigned a vehicle are Victim’s Assistance Coordinator Karren Ewing, Public Information Officer Courtney Taylor and Jail Administrator Gerald Cornwell.

Ewing uses her vehicle to respond to victim situations after hours, and Cornwell may be needed at any time at the jail, Mayfield said.

Taylor uses hers to respond to crime scenes and document things, he said.

Col. Debbie Gee may use a sheriff’s office vehicle while conducting business during the day, but is not assigned a take-home vehicle and uses her personal vehicle to get to and from work, Mayfield said.

The same situation may apply to the secretary at Natchez-Adams Metro Narcotics, he said.

Patten said Thursday he believes patrol deputies and investigators should have take-home cars, but other officers and administrative assistants should not.

“I would have one vehicle at the office for all of them to drive for when they need to deal with Adams County business,” Patten said. “Patrol deputies can be called out at any time, and so will the majors, but you have a victim’s right advocate, a public relations officer and other administrative assistants that are driving vehicles that shouldn’t be driving vehicles.”