JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Jackson County Sheriff's Department has added more than $700,000 worth of new tools to protect the community. The money comes from Homeland Security grants over the past few years.
"Our old equipment was in dire need of repair," Sheriff Mike Byrd said.
The sheriff admits it has been extremely difficult for his team to fight crime across the county, as well as help protect the industrial sites from terrorist threats with outdated tools.
"We had to call Biloxi in the past, their bomb squad, and things like that. Chevron, The Port of Pascagoula, Ingalls, all these sites have to be patrolled, and we have to make sure the security is there for them," Byrd said.
Thanks to the Homeland Security grant money, deputies are now working with the latest law enforcement tools, including night vision goggles and FLIR Systems.
"It picks up body heat. If we are looking for someone in the woods or something it is very important, because this would be our eyes in the darkness," Byrd said.
Two high-powered watercraft have also been added to the fleet to help with sea patrols.
"Our jurisdiction goes out to two miles south of Horn Island. The boat that this 27 foot replaced was leaking and it was dangerous to get on, so we're glad we were able to get this."
Byrd also used the grant to invest in new equipment for dive teams and marine enforcement training to improve on recovery and water rescues.
"We now have all the equipment we need to locate potential boats that may have went down, people that may have drowned."
The sheriff's department also showed off one more member of the crime fighting team. Aragon is the newest K-9 on the force. Homeland security funds paid for him as well. Aragon is specifically trained to detect bombs and other explosives.
Sheriff Byrd said the goal is to make sure his team uses each tool to not only respond to emergencies faster, but also make the county safer and less vulnerable to any attack.