Saltillo hires police veteran as new investigator

Lee County StockBy JB Clark
Daily Journal

SALTILLO – An officially certified and designated full-time investigator will be handling all of Saltillo’s felony cases for the first time since the position was vacated in 2011.

James Harrelson, a 16-year law enforcement veteran with 12 years of investigations experience, began work last week after nine years with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

“I live here in Saltillo, and my kids go to school here,” Harrelson said. “I’ve known the chief and guys that work up here, and it seemed like a good opportunity to move up here and be right at home in the community where my family is.”

He will investigate the city’s felony crimes, which he expects to be mostly burglaries and check fraud, and present those cases before a grand jury.

Saltillo Police Chief Grant Bailey said he wants to see the police department conduct more drug investigations, and the addition of Harrelson is the first step in that process.

“We have James here with his experience, and we’ve reached out to North Mississippi Narcotics to work in our community,” Bailey said. “We previously didn’t have the resources for big narcotics investigations, and James is a big step with the narcotics and investigation experience.”

Harrelson was a narcotics investigator in the Okolona Police Department from 2000 until 2004 and then a criminal investigator at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office from 2004 until this year.

The daily challenge is Harrelson’s favorite part of his work.

“You take the totality of the circumstances and add them all together, piece by piece, to get from point A to point Z,” he said. “It’s a good feeling to know that you’ve helped someone who has been done wrong or taken advantage of.”

Harrelson makes the seventh full-time officer in Saltillo’s police department.

Former Police Chief Steve Brooks appointed an officer to investigate felonies between 2011 and this year. Since the officer was not officially appointed and approved by the Board of Aldermen they voted not to send that officer to investigator training in May, saying they wanted to interview certified investigators with experience. That officer has since resigned from the department.

jb.clark@journalinc.com