Sheriff's inventory completed with less than .5 percent in items unaccounted for, officials say

mbbaker@sunherald.comJuly 8, 2014 

PASCAGOULA -- An inventory that has been called an all-out accounting of $11 million in items and equipment at the Jackson County Sheriff's Office has been completed, according to a joint press release from Sheriff Charles Britt and Jackson County Board President Troy Ross, and less than 0.5 percent of the equipment remains unaccounted for.

A total of 5,513 items, such as vehicles, firearms, boats, ATVs and other assets, were inventoried. An additional 1,100 items were inoperable, damaged or antiquated and will be destroyed.

"There were no surprises and it was just as we expected," Britt said. "We projected a few items to be unaccounted for and I have asked the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation to look into these missing items and give me and the supervisors a full report."

Deputies and a county manager began the inventory in February, shortly after Britt was appointed interim sheriff, replacing Mike Byrd, now a twice-convicted felon. Equipment assigned to employees was included in the inventory, as was larger, heavy-duty equipment and the office's equipment.

"This inventory was conducted by the Sheriff's Office and county inventory-control department," Ross said. "At the end of the day, it achieved our goal and the real winners will be the taxpayers."

A fleet-control manager has been assigned to determine the best use of equipment such as the large speciality vehicles, boats and ATVs.

"The inventory did take longer than we anticipated it would, but we wanted a transparent and accurate account of all items," Britt said.

Early on in the inventory, information emerged that there may be an excess of speciality vehicles, such as Ford F-250 and F-350 pickups, which area dealerships said cost $60,000 to $65,000.

Jackson County supervisors said they insisted on the inventory and Britt said it was just common sense when you take over to find out what equipment you have.

Britt said he's made some changes, such as no longer allowing his representative or secretary to take home vehicles. Instead, he said, they are using fleet vehicles during their working day only, for business.

Under Byrd, the vehicles were separate from county rules on vehicle use.

Byrd's spending on vehicles and maintenance costs was an issue in the last sheriff's race. When he left office in December, he had at least four unmarked vehicles assigned to himself, including a large pickup, a Dodge Durango and a Dodge Charger.

Over the years, Byrd had a great deal of freedom in the way he spent his budget, county officials have said, though the Board of Supervisors approved the budget.

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