Turman: Staffing almost done

Published 1:10 am Friday, February 8, 2019

New sheriff reorganizing, assigns investigator to jail

Almost a month after taking office, Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman said he almost has all of the jobs in his department filled, and is pleased with the interest in the reserve program.

Throughout his campaign, Turman said Todd Grimes would be his chief deputy. Just before taking office, he announced that Chris Byrd was joining the department to become chief of patrol; and Mike Irwin was leaving the DA’s office would move to the department to manage investigations. He also hired Beth Johnson, previously of the Florala Police Department; Al McGraw, previously a canine handler with the Elba Police Department; and Nick Ireland, previously a sergeant in the Andalusia Police Department. Retired SBI Capt. Tommy Merritt is working as a part-time employee with investigations.

“We’ve still got a couple of spots in investigations,” Turman said. “We will fill those internally, and that will open some other jobs in the department.”

Turman said no one from the previous administration lost his or her job.

“We didn’t have anybody leave on bad terms,” he said. “That’s the way we like it.”

As he reorganized the department, he placed an investigator in the jail.

“He will still help with regular investigations, but his job is to investigate crimes that go on in the jail,” Turman said. “Whether it’s cell phones or drugs, that’s what he’s supposed to do.”

Turman said he’s pleased with the number of applications for the reserve program.

“They are held to the same standards as road deputies, and regular, fulltime officers,” he said. “They have to have a valid driver’s license; they have to have a good moral standing in the community, and a willingness to get out there and help at any time.

“We understand can’t make every call, but we’re just looking for a reliable person.”

Reserve officers often escort athletic teams, provide extra security at ballgames, and transport prisoners.

“We’ve got some applications from some younger folks, and that’s good,” he said.

Turman said he also is completing an equipment audit.