Bolivar sheriff chats with residents
by Rory Doyle
Jun 19, 2013 | 1166 views | 0 0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Citizens had their first of two opportunities to voice concerns with Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams and his department at the Bolivar County Courthouse in Cleveland on Tuesday.

First Judicial District residents will also have a forum at 6 p.m. June 27 at the Rosedale Courthouse.

“Everything went pretty well but we didn’t have as big a turnout as I expected,” said Williams. “We didn’t have anyone with outspoken complaints so I take that as a positive.

“This is an opportunity for people to meet and discuss different issues," he added. "We want people to know we are there for them and we're willing to listen to their concerns or complaints.”

Williams said a crowd of nearly 30 showed up and asked questions about different topics, including saggy pants, open cold cases and apprehensions about Mississippi’s new “open carry” gun law set to kick in July 1.

“One lady expressed her fear about the new law and how people will be able to carry their guns in the open,” said Williams. “While I’m sure there are other people happy about the law. From a sheriff’s perspective — and from other sheriffs I’ve talked with across the state — most feel this could be a problem to law enforcement.

“I ensured her that she’s not the only one with fear, but as a department, we will continue to do everything to keep citizens safe.”

Williams said he does his best to return calls from anyone who personally reaches out to contact him.

“My phone rings 24 hours a day and I try to respond to every call as quickly as possible,” he said. “I sincerely try my best to get back to everyone, and if I can’t, I trust that the people I have in our leadership team will be able to help.”

Williams said one of the challenges of being sheriff in the state’s second largest county is operating on limited resources.

“If we had all the resources we needed, we’d feel better about things,” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have a blank check.”

One of his long-term goals is to divide the county into four sections and have two deputies in each area at all times.

“This would increase our patrol and our visibility,” said Williams. “It would also reduce crime across the county.”

But to achieve this, Williams said he would need to double his current staff size.

Another major hurdle is the limited number of patrol vehicles, as Williams said he had to take three older ones off the fleet because they were getting too expensive to repair.

“The solution to our lack of resources is to work with the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors and find out what areas they can further assist us in,” he said. “We are always looking for ways to save the county money, but at the same time, the board and the sheriff’s department both have a duty to serve the people.”

Williams said he would continue to seek grant assistance and send his staff to free trainings whenever possible.

While no major complaints arose at Tuesday’s meeting, Williams urged citizens of west Bolivar County to attend next week’s meeting.

“We want the people of the First Judicial District to come express their concerns. We want them to know their voices will be heard,” said Williams. “This forum is designed for the people so we can find out what they need.

“We need the citizens of Bolivar County to help us get better — so we can serve them to the best of our abilities.”

For questions or concerns, contact the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Department at 662-843-5378.