Mitchell county commission is suing the Sheriff - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Mitchell county commission is suing the Sheriff

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

MITCHELL COUNTY, GA (WALB) - The Mitchell county commission is suing the Sheriff, and the lawsuit is keeping the local drug task force from doing its job.

A judge questioned whether the Mitchell county police department, which acts as the county's drug task force, was properly and LAWFULLY formed.

Now the Sheriff isn't housing anyone arrested by the drug task force until the issue is resolved.

And the task force isn't operating right now.

The bizarre Mitchell county lawsuit against the Sheriff all began with a statement made by a judge.

During the case of The state of Georgia vs. Barfield, Judge Ronnie Joe Lane said he didn't believe the local drug task force was formed properly.

According to the Board of Commissioners, Mitchell county Sheriff W.E. Bozeman has refused to jail anyone arrested or detained by officers of the drug task force, because of the judges belief that the force was not lawfully created.

County attorney Robert Richardson says this issue needs to be resolved, and the only way to do that is file a lawsuit. The county attorney refused to go on camera, but says it's not a personal lawsuit against the Sheriff, but an effort to let the court determine whether the task force was set up properly.

The Sheriff couldn't comment on much today, but says he's not going to let the lawsuit disrupt his duties.

"The Sheriff will go on with normal business, it's not going to interfere with the operations of it. We'll just let the lawyers deal with it in court," he says.  

But citizens of Mitchell county we spoke with are dissatisfied. And here's why.

With the drug task force in question, the agency is not assisting local law enforcement in drug cases at this time.

Javy Blackmon says he feels his tax dollars are going to waste.

"Either that money needs to go somewhere else, or taxes need to be lowered, or the drug task force needs to be operating again," he says.

And he worries that if the court says the drug task force was indeed formed improperly, it could dissolve.

"Drugs are a problem in Mitchell county, we need a drug task force," he says.

Commissioners say another issue is finding funding to continue supporting the drug task force.

Part of the reason the drug task force is in question has to do with a GA statute created in January of 1992 that requires a public referendum to be held in order to create a county police department.

But the Mitchell county task force was created in May of 1991, before the statute existed.

It's for that reason the county attorney tells us he feels confident the court will find that the drug task force was indeed created properly.

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