Jackson County's new civil defense officer focuses on improving public safety

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Monday, Jackson County supervisors heard an initial assessment of the road damage in their county. They learned pot holes caused by the ice were being filled as quickly as possible. Any minor road issues linked to the bad weather were being repaired.

Over the next several days, Jackson County's road manager and the county administrator will work in tandem. Their mission is to come up with a report that details what two days of frozen roads and bridges did to Jackson County's infrastructure, and to its budget.

Jackson County sheriff's new civil defense officer started days before the winter blast. He said the storm proved this position is a necessity.

Shane Langfitt admits he was a bit shocked when he was faced with a winter blast in Jackson County just days after saying yes to the civil defense job.

"We had the ice storm take place, which was so unexpected.  The phones rang continuously, we stayed busy, it was an upbeat pace atmosphere."

Langfitt said he's responsible for helping provide key communication between the sheriff's department and the emergency management office during catastrophes. During this recent storm, he also went out to assess the icy mess the cold front created on several bridges and roads.

"People in South Mississippi, we're used to hurricanes, but we are not used to ice storms. We had a lot of traffic accidents, and a lot of vehicles in the ditches. As soon as the communication was coming in, I was getting that information out to men and women working the streets to get them some assistance as soon as possible," Langfitt said.

Jackson County Emergency Service Director Earl Etheridge said Langfitt provides a strong presence from the sheriff's office, something that has been missing in the past.

"Basically, what we had in the past was, for whatever reason, we didn't have representation from the sheriff's office here. We would constantly have to make phone calls to get on the radio or run back in forth across the street to get information to the sheriff's office for things we need done such as road closurers evacuations, depending on what the issue was," Etheridge said.

Both men hope the position will help improve public safety in Jackson County.

"Our population base in Jackson County is about 150,000. We have a very strong industrial base; we have the largest Chevron refineries, so we have a lot of areas of concerns."

The job is part time. Interim Sheriff Charles Britt said Langfitt will get paid around $20 an hour as a civil defense officer. He also serves as a county constable.  

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