Jackson County

New uniforms mean a break with the old, in with the new

KAREN NELSON/SUN HERALDWearing the new uniform for Jackson County deputies are Sgt. Randy Neal, left, Chief Deputy John Ledbetter and Maj. Ray Bates.
KAREN NELSON/SUN HERALDWearing the new uniform for Jackson County deputies are Sgt. Randy Neal, left, Chief Deputy John Ledbetter and Maj. Ray Bates.

PASCAGOULA -- They are setting themselves apart, making a break from the old administration, starting new. That's what the new uniforms mean to Jackson County deputies.

Sheriff Mike Ezell seconded that Friday, after he showed off his own new uniform before a crowded courtroom filled with well-wishers at the swearing in of new county officials.

Ezell said it also is a way of "putting our best foot forward" and described the uniforms as "more in line with what a sheriff's deputy should look like."

The sheriff's officials are putting the Mike Byrd era behind them. During Byrd's time in office, deputies wore navy pants and shirts. It was something Byrd carried over from his days with the Gautier Police Department, before he was elected sheriff. Byrd, who held the office for many years, resigned and in 2014 pleaded guilty to state and federal felony charges.

Byrd took the traditional badge or star from the chest and replaced it with a patch.

Ezell has brought back the star and redesigned the arm patch.

The shirts are now British khaki, a dark shake of khaki, with a navy tie. The pants are still navy.

"We have our own new patch," Ezell said. "We're proud of it."

It contains the year Jackson County was established, 1812.

Ezell is transitioning in the new uniforms this weekend and throughout the week.

When asked, one deputy said: "We wanted to set ourselves apart and show it's a new day in the Sheriff's Department."

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