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Sollie's retreat on county patrolmen

By Staff
Feb. 4, 2001
Call it what you will, but Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie's self-imposed gag order on county patrolmen is baffling. Is it a strategic retreat or an implied threat to lay low and bring the issue to another boil in time for the next elections?
We don't know, and he wouldn't say.
By any standard, the practice of appointing road patrolmen is antiquated, duplicative, inefficient, and may eventually raise serious questions about liability. They look like law enforcement officers, carry guns and drive marked cars with sirens and flashing lights yet, they make no arrests and issue no citations.
Sollie announced last week in a letter to supervisors' president Jimmy Smith, the general public and the Meridian news media that he will not initiate discussion on the subject of county patrolmen.
But, as The Meridian Star reads the tea leaves, that doesn't mean the debate is over. To the contrary, there really hasn't been much of a debate yet. Sollie apparently saw himself pretty much carrying on the battle alone and his approaches to the board of supervisors never produced the kind of public outcry necessary to convince supervisors to change the policy.
In Lauderdale County, each one of the five county supervisors appoint a county road patrolmen whose duties are, at best, ill-defined. Supposedly, they ride the roads looking for potholes and damaged signs. Sometimes, they help with school traffic. Sometimes, other duties are assigned by their supervisor. The general public rarely knows what these other duties are.
Voices in the community must now come forward if this faulty system is to end. The Meridian Star suggests you register your opinions on the practice of appointing county patrolmen with members of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors. You may reach their office at 482-9746.