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Alabama sheriff doing a lot with a little

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Oct. 21–BUTLER, Ala. — Nine months into his job as Sheriff of Choctaw County, Ala., Scott Lolley knows he has a lot of ground to cover and a small staff of deputies to do it with.

“Choctaw County is 990 square miles and we have a sheriff, six full-time deputies and two part-timers,” Lolley said. “One of the biggest things I’ve tried to do is maximize our presence on patrol even with the limited manpower that we have. We’ve been pretty much under the gun for the last nine months.”

Lolley is also responsible for overseeing the Choctaw County jail in downtown Butler, and that has its challenges as well.

“We have one jailer per shift, which can make for a tough situation,” Lolley said.

The state of Alabama does not provide much help, Lolley said, adding that it is his department’s responsibility to provide meals for the inmates at the county jail.

“Now, we do get reimbursed but it is only at $1.75 per day, per inmate. It’s hard to feed someone on that amount,” Lolley said.

Inmates at the Lauderdale County Detention Center in Meridian, on the other hand, have their meals paid for out of the Sheriff’s budget through the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.

Lolley said the Choctaw County jail has 55 beds. Friday, there were 33 inmates, so over-crowding is not a problem. Many of inmates that are there, however, are considered dangerous

“One fourth of our inmate population is in jail on a capital murder charge,” Lolley said. “I don’t know if you would find a ratio that high anywhere else in this state or Mississippi. Once they are convicted on a felony, we send them on to state prison.”

One reform Lolley said he has instituted is greater training for his staff.

“One of my goals was to bring in more training here,” Lolley said. “We are able to do a lot of it in Gilbertown through the Alabama Southern College campus there.”

A new goal for Lolley will be to improve his communication efforts. He said his department operates on an older analog dispatch system, while his Mississippi counterparts are all on digital systems.

“Our county borders Lauderdale, Clarke and Wayne (counties) in Mississippi and all those departments have digital communication,” Lolley said. “Some of it comes into our county because we’re so close. Digital is way better.

“Criminals don’t recognize state lines. As sheriff, neither do I. It’s too easy for them to come from Waynesboro over to Silas or Gilbertown or down from Meridian to here or back the other way. We really want to cooperate with the departments in all three of the Mississippi counties because it benefits all of us.”

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(c)2015 The Meridian Star (Meridian, Miss.)

Visit The Meridian Star (Meridian, Miss.) at meridianstar.com

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