By ADAM ARMOUR
There has been a changing of the guards, so to speak, within the Mantachie Police Department.
Danny Crum, a Mantachie resident and state-certified officer with more than 11 years law enforcement experience, recently joined the Mantachie police department as a full-time officer. He replaces Tim “Red” Spradlin, who left the department late last year.
Crum joins Chief Terry Jones, and part-time officer Nelson McMillen to round out the town’s police department. The department’s other full-time officer, Wilton Cooper, will be on military leave for approximately 12-15 months, leaving the department with slightly less manpower. Jones, however, asserts that the department will be able to maintain operations just as it always has, even without the extra set of hands.
“We’re still going to provide the town of Mantachie with coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Jones said. “We’re going to try and cover with who we have … It’s going to be hard, but we’re going to be able to do it.”
Jones said he was reluctant to try to fill Cooper’s temporary vacancy due to the difficulty of hiring of a Mississippi certified officer willing to work for such a brief period.
Crum has worked as law enforcement in both Nettleton and Lee County. He has previously worked with Jones in Lee County under Sheriff Early Ray Presley. Although he has been on hiatus from law enforcement for several years, he said he was eager to be back behind a badge.
“I always missed being in law enforcement,” Crum said. “I’ve always enjoyed being out in the community and working with people.”
Towing the blue line
Despite being down by one, Chief Jones is pleased with the current states of his town and department.
“We don’t have a lot of the same problems that other [similarly sized] towns seem to have,” Jones said. “For example, we haven’t had a reported break-in in four years.
“It may start tomorrow,” he added with a subtle grin, “but right now, we’re in good shape.”
Jones has been in office for four years now, and he’s proud of the progress the department’s made in that relatively short amount of time. New vehicles, two drug dogs, new law books, tasers (which Jones referred to as the “best thing to happen to law enforcement in years”), a computer system and database for the office, three laptops equipped with law enforcement programs and new intoxilizers are just some of the improvements Jones has been happy to see the department adopt.
Of these changes, it’s perhaps the department’s two drug dogs that has Jones most pleased.
“We don’t get calls about people cooking meth anymore or dealers standing on the corner selling dope,” Jones said. “Folks can say what they want about these drug dogs — whether we need them or not — but those dogs are strong. In the two years since they’ve been here, we’ve worked about 15 cases with them.
“A lot of people just don’t know what good those drug dogs have done for Mantachie,” Jones added. “I’m not saying that there aren’t still drugs out there. But, it’s not rampant. We’re in good shape.”
Crum said the new laptop computers are a genuine asset as well, allowing officers to run instant background checks on people while on the streets.
“It’s a great tool for us out on the streets,” Crum said. “It speeds everything up.”
Although the department has added a lot of new equipment, Jones was quick to note that none of it came at any cost to taxpayers.
“We’ve paid for all of this new equipment with court fees,” Jones said, noting the irony of lawbreakers paying for law enforcement equipment. “The only thing we don’t pay for out of the court account are our salaries.”
Pleased, but hardly satisfied, Jones reasserted that the department, even when shorthanded, would continue to work its hardest for Mantachie.
“I’d be naive to say that there are no drugs in Mantachie because every place has drugs. But, I am saying that we’re in a lot better shape than a lot of places,” Jones said. He added that eliminating drugs in Mantachie is still a priority.
“Drugs are going to destroy more people than anything else,” Jones said. “That’s why wiping out drugs in Mantachie is still my No. 1 priority.”
Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.