PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - According to Sheriff Mike Byrd, "We have close to 100,000 people that live outside the county, and it's very, very challenging."
Sheriff Byrd says a bigger budget will help the 200 members of his department meet the challenges of protecting a growing Jackson County.
"Our biggest increase has been in Vancleave and the St. Martin area. It is very important you have enough people on the street to answer the calls for service. Our calls for service have gone up approximately 15 to 20 percent," Sheriff Byrd said.
The sheriff's budget has jumped from $7.5 million to almost $9 million in 2008. Topping Byrd's to do list: hiring four new deputies and increasing employee wages.
"Officers have to be able to take care of their families, and be able to provide for them."
The sheriff's department is also getting ten new patrol cars. Byrd says most of the department's vehicles have more than 100,000 miles on them.
Jackson County Supervisor Melton Harris knows the sizable increase may sound like too much to some people, but he says you can't put a price on improving safety and reducing crime.
"We want to make sure we have piece of mind, and piece of mind on our streets, especially in our county and our rural areas," Harris said.
Sheriff Byrd says the big investment will pay off for Jackson County.