Albany- An impassioned plea is made to save the jobs of six Dougherty County Sheriff's Department employees.
An Albany woman who was brutally beaten and robbed told County Commissioners that it was Sheriff's Investigators who caught her attacker. And Evelyn and Edwin Tomlinson say were it not for the Sheriff's Investigators, their attacker may well still be on the loose.
Evelyn Tomlinson washes the lunch dishes, while her husband Edwin returns to his woodworking. Daily routines they perhaps took for granted until September 25, 2002.
"My back was to the building. He hit me and knocked me down," said Mrs. Tomlinson.
The Tomlinson's were beaten and robbed while leaving their cleaning job one evening on O'Kelley Lane. "I went to her and told her to get up, we've just been mugged," Edwin Tomlinson said.
Bruised and bloodied, they called Albany Police. "I said ‘Ya'll haven't even contacted me to find out if my wife and I are dead or alive.’"
Desperate to catch their attacker, they called Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators. "He called and said "We have him.' Three days after he got the case, he solved it," said Mr. Tomlinson.
Now the Tomlinson's are on a different case, pleading with county commissioners not to fire those very same Sheriff's investigators. "It would be a big, big mistake. All we've got working for Albany is the Sheriff's Investigators."
The county plans to cut six Sheriff's Department positions, saying taxpayers can go to Dougherty County Police and Albany Police. "I'm not downing anybody as far as the police department, but they really didn't help us."
And because they live in the city limits, the Tomlinson's only option will be Albany Police. "It would be a big mistake to get rid of them. We need them. What will happen?"
"We always take citizens' needs into account, but we have to make sure we're effectively providing services," says County Commissioner Lamar Hudgins.
"It doesn't bother me to pay taxes for the sheriff's department. We waste tax money on less important things," said Mrs. Tomlinson.
And for the Tomlinsons, being able to go about their daily chores knowing their attacker is in jail, is invaluable.
Alberta Hayes still vividly remembers the March day in 1998 when her sister was murdered. "She went to the side door and saw my sister...” 36-year old Shirley Ann Jackson was raped and strangled in her home on East Roosevelt Avenue.
What followed were six months of frustration and an unsolved murder. "We hadn't heard from city police, so I called the Sheriff's Department."
Now, five years later, Alberta Hayes says the Sheriff's Investigators who caught her sister's killer shouldn't be fired. "There are too many murderers walking around loose. We need the Sheriff's Department."
The Sheriff's Investigators did in two weeks what Albany Police couldn't do in six months. "They solved my sister's murder."
"A lot of cases have low solvability factor. We do all we can," says Albany Police Chief Bobby Johnson.
But in Shirley Ann Jackson's murder, it wasn't enough. "The Sheriff's Department cares and that's what we need,"said Hayes.
Alberta Hayes says commissioners don't realize how important the Sheriff's investigative unit is. "If they pull the files, they'll see for themselves."
"We still don't have a firm grip on the number of cases they work. We're just doing what we thing is right," says county commissioner Lamar Hudgins. And the county says keeping sheriff's investigators is a duplication of services and a waste of tax money.
"If I'm going to pay taxes, I want to pay for somebody who's going to listen and work for people's safety."
Safety and peace of mind in knowing that her sister's murder was finally solved.
County Commissioners will vote on their budget and the proposed Sheriff's Department cuts next Monday at 10:00AM.