New Small Town Police Force Working Out Issues With Sheriff

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Updated: Fri, 17 Jan 2014 06:59:28 EST

The city of Jacksonville in Telfair County now has a police department, but the newly formed force doesn't come without issues, specifically communication problems with Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson.

There were some rumblings about the Jacksonville P.D. not being able to use sheriff's office radio frequencies, but town officials didn't want to talk about it Friday. Telfair Sheriff Chris Steverson also said Friday he didn't know anything about the new police force except rumors heard on the street.

Town leaders in Jacksonville say the rural highway running through the town all the way to Florida makes it a hot spot for drug traffickers and speeders. With the county sheriff's office nearly 20 miles away and response times taking up to 30 minutes, former Telfair deputy Lee Bell was been hired to go on patrol.

"My number one mission is safety, security of the public, residents and I'm very excited to be here," Bell said.

The department has one full time and one part time officer, and like departments in bigger cities funding the force is a problem, and although Jacksonville Mayor Pro-Tem John Dopson did not want to talk about it, Steverson says he banned Jacksonville PD from using his radio frequencies.

Steverson says he welcomes any new police force in Telfair County as long as they are properly trained with the right intentions.

"If a little town or city decided to set up a speed trap, law enforcement agency only for the purpose of generating revenue, we would monitor that closely," Steverson said.

Steverson says he learned second hand that Jacksonville PD was trying to use his radio, and hasn't heard from any city leaders.

"It has been said that they were hoping to not rely on the sheriff's office so maybe that's being done intentionally, not reaching out to us, but we're here, and we're the sheriff's office and we're going to fulfill our duties," Steverson said.

Dopson says he's eager to work with county leaders and plans to ask county commissioners to use the sheriff's radio frequencys at the next scheduled meeting.

"We want everybody to work with us on this, including the county officials, but like is said we're pleased with who we got," Dopson said.


When WGXA asked Steverson if he was going to reach out to Jacksonville, he mentioned sour grapes between Dopson and the sheriff's office and said he'll wait for them to call him.

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