Supervisors ready to appoint a new sheriff if Byrd resigns

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Sheriff Mike Byrd could be in his final hours as the top law enforcer in Jackson County. Tuesday afternoon, Byrd is set to enter a guilty plea to a felony charge in U.S. District Court in Mobile, Alabama. After he does, the four term sheriff will have to leave office, though his attorney has said Byrd has no plans to resign. It will be up to Jackson County Supervisors to appoint an interim sheriff, but right now it's a waiting game.

On the eve of Sheriff Mike Byrd's expected guilty plea, Supervisors at Monday's board meeting were tight lipped about his anticipated resignation and plans to replace him.

"We have seen that 180 type efforts could be made, so we are waiting to we receive the official resignation," Supervisor Melton Harris said.

"Until he does submit something, there is nothing for us to do. So, maybe in the future we might be talking about that, but not at this time," Supervisor Mike Mangum said.

In an official court filing, Sheriff Byrd has admitted he broke the law, but he has not formally confessed. Once he does, he will have to leave office. When that happens, supervisors will select a temporary chief law enforcer of the county.

"It is a big responsibility that we can't take lightly. We have to make sure if it does happen, and we have to make an appointment, we appoint someone who is going to the best person for the county, not someone we like or we think may deserve it," Supervisor Troy Ross said.

So far, at least 10 people have contacted supervisors about the sheriff's job, but no resumes will be considered until there's an opening. Supervisor Melton Harris said it will be important for the board to devise a fair and reasonable replacement strategy and stick to it.

"We will probably have to start trying to compile a list of criteria we like to see, things such as where the individual could live. What is the law enforcement background? Does he or she have to be a resident of Jackson County? All kinds of criteria that we may ask ourselves," Supervisor Melton Harris said.

Until then, supervisors will continue to play the waiting game.

"It is one of those things where we have to wait until the legal process plays itself out in these situations." 

During the meeting, the board also revised the way deputies are appointed and terminated within the department.  Now, the sheriff or a proper authority in the county can make those decisions. 

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