By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Representatives of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the six surrounding sheriff’s offices gathered at the Silver Moon Club in Tupelo on Thursday to share contacts, information and barbecue.
“The reason we had the luncheon was to meet all the new sheriffs that were elected,” Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said. “This was open to the sheriffs of six counties that touch Lee County along with their chief deputy, investigators and other staff.”
The idea for county cooperation came when Johnson and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office joined the Northeast Mississippi Narcotics Unit in 2004, which encompasses seven counties and dozens of law enforcement agencies, Johnson said.
“We have seen the direct impact of us pooling our resources by every agency putting in a little,” Johnson said. “We know the importance of compiling. There is no sense in duplicating services when we have services we want people to utilize, and we want to use other agencies’ resources.”
Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards and Monroe County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell are beginning their first terms as sheriff, and Pontotoc Sheriff Leo Mask is returning as sheriff after losing the sheriff race four years ago.
Johnson said he wanted each sheriff and his staff to be aware of the resources available to them and know who their colleagues are.
“We only do something like this once a year but even the old sheriffs’ staffs have changed. We talk on the phone a lot but not always face-to-face,” he said. “Criminals aren’t going to stop at the county line. If they commit a crime in Lee County, they are running from us, and nine times out of 10, they won’t stick around. With the technology and resources we have, it’s foolish to try and stand alone. We wanted to be the agency up front to open that up.”