Crime

About the Jackson County equipment inventory

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD 
 Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell has said that he only knows of eleven items that are missing from their inventory of over 9,000 items. He also said it is possible other items were purchased by the department and never put on the inventory.
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALD Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell has said that he only knows of eleven items that are missing from their inventory of over 9,000 items. He also said it is possible other items were purchased by the department and never put on the inventory. SUN HERALD

About the Jackson County equipment inventory

Jackson County worked with the Sheriff's Office to conduct an extensive inventory on property owned by the Sheriff's Office after ex-Sheriff Mike Byrd left office because of criminal charges. Sheriff Mike Ezell said the inventory took almost a year and officials were able to visually account for 9,000 items, with all but 11 items found.

The inventory included such items as night vision goggles, vehicles, firearms, boats, ATVs and other assets. Those who conducted the inventory found 1,100 items inoperable, damaged or antiquated. However, Ezell believes there is other equipment that was never documented in the county inventory. Some items, he said, may still be missing, such as various items a former deputy is now accused of selling at a pawn shop for money.

Early on in the inventory, information emerged about an excess of specialty vehicles, such as Ford F-250 and F-350 pickups.

The Sheriff's Department, also under Byrd, had an unusually large number of all-terrain vehicles -- 25 -- most of which were taken home by the employees at the time. That practice was later changed and the ATVs stored in a vehicle pool at Singing River Island.

A large number of the "excess" vehicles and other items were later transferred to other county departments or other law enforcement agencies.

Other excess equipment included three Harley Davidson motorcycles, 14 mini-Ruger rifles, an air filter system, a Ford Explorer and two patrol cars, all of which were donated to other county departments or agencies.

The Sheriff's Office also has two helicopters, 15 boats, two golf carts, four armored personnel carriers and 19 outboard motors.

The Sheriff's Office still has 11 items that belong to the county but are unaccounted for. A list of the missing items was turned over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation for an investigation. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office, however, has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

Here's a look at the missing items:

A marine GPS, valued at $3,499

-A marine GPS antenna, valued at $1,199

These two items had been stored at the sheriff's marine patrol facility on Singing River Island and was not secured when the items went missing, Ezell said.

-A laptop computer, valued at $6,819.

The laptop, Ezell said, was evidence in a sex crime investigation and was turned over to officials at the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation as part of the criminal investigation. The laptop's hard drive crashed during the probe, he said, and the computer became inoperable. MBI says it returned the laptop to the Sheriff's Office, but the Sheriff's Office never found it.

-A laser range finder, valued at $962.

The range finder for sniper weapons, Ezell said, had never actually been assigned to anyone, though two were ordered. One was found and the other remains missing.

-A Taser, valued at $854.

The taser, Ezell said, has been unaccounted for some time and there was no information on who the Taser was ever assigned to.

-Two utility trailers, one valued at $1,495 and the other valued at $1,595.

One of the utility trailers, Ezell said, was reportedly stolen at some point from a sheriff's deputy's home in the Escatawpa community; the other, he said, had been missing for some time and the Sheriff's Office could never find out who the trailer was issued to last.

-A 32-inch television with a wall mount, valued at $277.

The television has been missing for some time, Ezell said, and he did not say whether it had been assigned to any specific department.

-Three pairs of night-vision goggles, each valued at $3,495

All three pairs of goggles have been missing for some time. Ezell did not say whether they had ever been assigned to a specific sheriff's deputy.

-- Margaret Baker

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