Fired jailer back on the job in Harrison County

By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Jacent Gregory went back to work at the Harrison County Sheriff's Department Tuesday, after being fired nearly two years ago. Gregory was the senior lieutenant on duty when four inmates escaped in 2008.

One of those inmates is a convicted murderer and all four men were back in custody within hours. Since his firing by sheriff Melvin Brisolara, Gregory and his attorney have fought to get his job back.

"I don't think it was personal, I just think the sheriff wanted to hold somebody accountable," Gregory said.

Three other employees were suspended, but Gregory was the only one fired.

In the summer of 2009, Gregory and his attorney went before the Civil Service Commission. They found Gregory should have been suspended for 60 days without pay, but not fired.

"I believe I should have been disciplined, but not fired," Gregory conceded.

He told us he did not return to work until Tuesday because of the ongoing issue over back pay.

"I believe I am entitled to get the back pay, and I still have not received the back pay."

When he was fired, Gregory had been at the jail for five years and had worked his way up to the rank of lieutenant. As part of his return to work, he has agreed to come back as an entry level jail officer.

"I would rather go back as my rank, but I know that I have to respect the sheriff's decision on demoting me."

Gregory said he is a good jailer and that he didn't know Sheriff Brisolara because he had just taken office weeks before the escape occurred.

As for Gregory's returning to work, Sheriff Brisolara told us, "As long as he comes in and does his job, things will be fine."

So, Jacent Gregory is back in the job he loves. Even his four-year-old son is thrilled.

"He overheard my mom, my wife say, 'He is going back to the Sheriff's Department.' And he said, 'You know what, Daddy? You are going to be a policeman again.' And that is what is touching," Gregory said while holding back tears.

The issue of back pay is still to be resolved, but Gregory is confident it will be soon.

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