Sheriff hopes for new vehicles in county budget


Sheriff Eric Clark said two recent vehicle wrecks have put a strain on his already aging fleet as the budgeting season is expected to draw to a close at next week’s county board of supervisor’s meeting.

Clark said he has requested three new SUVs in his FY 2022 budget but he could use five. He said he expects each vehicle to cost as much as $45,000 after they have been properly equipped.

Clark said his department is “behind the times” when it comes to equipment and has described his vehicle fleet as “aging.” The SUVs would be implemented primarily as patrol vehicles.

He said recent incidents have taken some patrol vehicles out of service.

One vehicle was hit on Aug. 9 after a driver in the Neshoba County High School carpool line that afternoon caused a disturbance and fled the scene, leading law enforcement officers on a chase through town. Clark said the chase ended when the suspect “rammed” into a patrol car on Beacon Street in town.

He said he just got that car out of the shop on Aug. 30.

Caroline Carter, 57, of 10280 Road 402 was arrested and charged with felony pursuit in relation to the incident.

Another chase in the early morning hours of Aug. 14, led by two young men from Birmingham left the status of another patrol vehicle in limbo.

Clark said the vehicle, a 2015 Ford Taurus with more than 175,000 miles on it, was badly damaged. Clark said the unit was in line to be replaced but up until the mid-August wreck was used daily.

De’Coryous Cardell Clay, 22, of 3520 17th Avenue North, Birmingham, was arrested and charged with felony pursuit and failure to yield to blue lights and Marquarius Dewayne Mickles, 29, of 700 15th Court, was arrested and charged with reckless driving, failure to yield to blue lights and felony pursuit in relation to this incident.

Clark said the chase started when a deputy saw the car make an improper turn and tried to pull the duo over for careless driving at 2:05 a.m. on Highway 16 East.

“They showed a reckless disregard for themselves and everyone around them,” Clark said.

Mickles was driving a new 2021 Dodge Challenger. During the chase the two struck a patrol car and fled, leading deputies on a chase that ended in Kemper County.

The deputy sustained minor injuries but ultimately was “fine” and was back at work within a couple of days, Clark said.

Clark said other budget goals include being able to offer competitive pay raises and increases in the Neshoba County Detention Center’s operating budget. He said that he understands that the supervisors have variety of departments and expenses to consider but said that any extra money would be well spent at the sheriff’s office.

The Neshoba County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Sept. 7 for proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

The hearing will be held at the Neshoba County Courthouse in their meeting room. Any citizen of Neshoba County is invited to attend.

The new budget year begins Oct. 1.

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