JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Jackson County Sheriff's Department finally has a new man in charge. Mike Ezell was sworn in Monday afternoon, in front of dozens of supporters. Ezell defeated Scott McIlrath in last Tuesday's runoff.
He will now finish out former Sheriff Mike Byrd's term of one year. Byrd resigned late last year after pleading guilty to a state and federal crime.
Ezell says he is excited about leading the county and removing the black cloud over the troubled sheriff's department.
"We are so excited. We are so pumped up. We're ready to get out there and go to work and help the folks of Jackson County," said Ezell.
Since winning by a landslide in the run-off election, Ezell said the work has already started to restore integrity to the department.
"A lot of things have been said throughout the campaign that we just need to calm it down, so we can get in there and go to work. So that these folks will know there's a stable environment, and get going forward with the sheriff's office," said Ezell.
In order to move forward, Ezell wants to win back the public's trust, especially after former Sheriff Mike Byrd made headlines for corrupt acts he participated in while in office.
"People are going to be watching us very close because of what has happened over the last few years, and we plan on just taking our time, looking at what we got, moving forward, and treating people like they want to be treated," Ezell said.
He added that he has no plans to clean house, but does want to evaluate employees and make officers in Jackson County the best they can be.
"I care about my county and I love my profession. I want the best officers working for Jackson County, and we're going to do that," he said.
After 30 years in professional law enforcement, Ezell has grown to love the field and wants to instill that love for the job in his officers.
"I want the men and women who work here to bring their families up here, so that we can get to know each other, and try to get this morale back up so that we can get out here and take care of the folks in the community that need us," said Ezell.
Ezell also has plans to work with youth court to help at risk youth. He wants youth in Jackson County to know the sheriff's department is there for them all the time, not just when they're in trouble.
Former Sheriff Charles Britt, who took office following former Sheriff Mike Byrd's departure had this to say:
"I would like to thank the loyal, hard working members of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department for your commitment to this agency. "It has been a true honor and privilege to work with each of you. This agency still has a few self-serving individuals who wave the flag of the department, but in reality their only true interest is their own personal agendas. These few individuals will continue to resist change as well as any positive movement into the future. Your agency will never be allowed to heal until this cancer is cut out and removed. We have made a great deal of progress, and no one can take that from us."