Sheriff Gladney updates Rotary

Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney was the guest speaker at the Starkville Rotary Club on Monday. (Photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)
By: 
SARAH RAINES
Staff Writer

Oktibbeha County Sheriff Steve Gladney spoke to the Starkville Rotary Club on Monday and updated club members and guests on the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department.

Gladney, who has been sheriff since 2012, shared the challenges of maintaining the 459 square miles of Oktibbeha County.

"We have a lot of roads and a lot of ground to cover," Gladney said. "We go to Maben, to Sturgis, all the way east to the Lowndes County line and even some to Noxubee County."

At the moment, the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department has 28 sheriff's deputies and is in the interviewing process of hiring four more deputies. There are also 24 employees working in the jail.

Both the old jail, and the jail that was built 25 years ago, can house around 100 people. On Monday Gladney said there were 90 people being housed in the two jails.

The sheriff's department has gone from averaging about 712 calls each month in 2016 to answering over 800 calls a month in 2017.

Gladney said he is proud that the department is one of only four sheriff's departments in Mississippi that has accreditation from the Mississippi Law Enforcement
Accreditation Commission (MSLEAC), which requires the department to comply with 138 professional standards to receive the status.

"Back in 2012, when I got elected sheriff, it was very important to me that I wanted the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department to have accreditation," Gladney said. "So, we went to work on that. In 2012 Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department received its accreditation.""

Gladney said the biggest problem the department faces is auto burglaries.

"As a matter of fact, we made five arrests last night," Gladney said. "We caught five people going into unlocked cars last night, but people think, 'I'm at home, I'm in my driveway, my car is safe, I'm safe' and they leave all kinds of things in their car."

Gladney said people leave purses, computers, wallets and guns in vehicles that can easily be stolen.

Gladney suggests people not leave valuables in unlocked vehicles, do not leave keys in the car, pay attention to your surroundings and write the serial number of valuables down and take pictures of them. When firearms are stolen, the department needs the serial numbers to enter them into the National Crime Information Center.

"One week we recovered five stolen vehicles, and five out of those six were stolen by kids ages 14 to 20, and the key was in it," Gladney said.

Gladney said if there is something suspicious, call the OCSD.

When it comes to drugs, Gladney said he sees different drugs in different parts of the county. Gladney said the department had problems with methamphetamine in the western part of the county this summer, and predominantly dealt with marijuana and pills in the eastern part of the county.

The department also provides other services to residents in the county. One is the "Are you okay?" check. The department calls elderly or homebound residents each day to check on them. If the phone is not answered three times in one day, a deputy is sent to the house to check on the resident.

Additionally, the department performs home checks, where if a resident is going out of town a deputy will check on their house once or twice a day to make sure nothing is out of place until the resident returns home.

Gladney also answered questions from Rotary members:

WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF SHERIFF'S DEPUTIES GETTING RADAR?

Gladney said he has been trying for the past two years to get radar.
"In these college towns and these large counties, we need it," Gladney said. "Mississippi State University can run radar and I signed the agreement that MSU can run radar within a 500 buffer zone of the campus."

ANY UPDATES ON GET A NEW MISSISSIPPI HIGHWAY PATROL STATION?

"The money is there, I know Cornerstone has given them land to build it on, the legislature has just got to approve to do that," Gladney said.

CAN THE JAIL EXPAND UPWARD IF NEEDED AND IS THERE GOING TO BE A COMMON AREA?

Gladney said the newer jail was built with the intention of being able to expand upward if needed, but then a law was passed prohibiting that expansion.
Gladney said the new jail is 25 years old, and during a busy court term, he has had to house as many as 39 people in Chickasaw County because of overflow.

DO YOU SEE ORGANIZED CRIME OR GANGS?

"We are seeing some gangs, I don't know how organized they are," Gladney said. "A lot of it is different parts of the county. You'll have some on the west side, some on the south side."

IS THERE HUMAN TRAFFICKING ISSUES IN MISSISSIPPI?

Gladney said human trafficking is prevalent on the coast, in Jackson and DeSoto County, but the OCSD had a meeting last week to discuss human trafficking in Oktibbeha County.

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