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Commission OKs sheriff deputy in Sanford

Full-time police patrol is coming to Sanford.

The Covington County Commission approved a contract that would allow the sheriff to employ a full-time patrol deputy in the Sanford.

In May, Covington County Sheriff Blake Turman approached the commission about the issue and a contract was drafted, but not adopted.

“This is a community-type deputy,” Turman said. “It will be paid for by the town of Sanford. The town covers a pretty large footprint in the county. He would basically do anything that is required as far as law enforcement and security is concerned. They would keep an eye on our local businesses, helping out with the municipalities. I think for instance if a car parks on top of a water meter. Sometimes you need a police officer there to handle that.”

Turman said the town of Sanford would take care of the $46,431 salary.

“This deputy would work 43 hours a week, at various times,” Turman said. “It may be on a rotating schedule. He may work a Monday through Thursday one week, then the next week Tuesday through Friday. If the need arises and we needed to pull this deputy from Sanford to handle an emergency situation then we would be able to do that. There would be no cost for a patrol car because we already have one that the new deputy can drive.”

When it comes down to law enforcement, Turman said the effect of “blue lights” is amazing.

Whether they are writing a ticket, giving a warning or just stopping to change a tire, when the bad guys see those blue lights, the goosebumps come up and they leave,” Turman said. “Having this extra deputy in Sanford is going to help out. My ultimate goal is to have a crime-free Covington County.”

Sanford Mayor Chris Thomasson said they are in a unique situation.

“We have a couple of businesses and a small municipality,” Thomasson said. “We have a cooperative that serves our entire community, and we have a car dealership that serves our community. My citizens, those businesses and I feel like we need a patrolman there as much as possible. We have a history of trying to take care of our municipality.”

President of Covington Electric Ed Short gave his support for the addition of a deputy, only if it would not be a speed trap.

“When Sheriff Turman approached me about this because Covington Electric is in Sanford,” Turman said. “Many of you know we have had wire theft issues and there are other things that are going on that this would address. My first question to the sheriff was if this was going to be a speed trap. If it was then we were not going to support it. They told me that it would not be a speed trap, but a deputy serving the county and I definitely support that from a business standpoint.”

Several people showed up to the commission meeting to show support for the partnership, including J.M. Jackson president Johnny Jackson, Short, and Rep. Mike Jones.

Commissioner Kyle Adams said he was not for the partnership, claiming Sanford would be better off with its own police department.

“I go to church in Sanford and I do my business in Sanford,” Adams said. “I do not think this is what’s best for Sanford and I think that Sanford is being shortchanged by not having their own police department. I’m willing to vote yes for this because you are all here, but I still think you are better served with your own department long term. That’s just my opinion and I wanted you all to know that.”

The deputy in Sanford would serve as a pilot program, lasting one year.