Sheriff’s Race

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 21, 2011

Sheriff’s candidate will take vacation

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville aldermen on Tuesday approved Police Captain Jimmy McCloud’s request to use accumulated vacation time to campaign for the office of Panola County sheriff.

“I know it’s a long time, … it’s pros both ways. I feel like I could do a lot of stuff after hours and weekends, but I don’t want to cause the chief’s phone to be going crazy every day because somebody said they saw me shake somebody’s hand and they assumed I’m politicking on city time,” McCloud told city officials.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I’ve been here since 1993, and I’ve been very cautious about taking my vacation,” McCloud told the city officials.

He said that he had accrued enough unused vacation time to carry him through most of October with pay.

“I am asking to take off from March 15th until I win or lose,” he said.

McCloud said that if he is involved in the November 8 General Election, he would complete the campaign on leave without pay.

McCloud has qualified to seek the office as a Democrat.

Party primaries are August 2 and 23.

“You are over those patrolmen; … I just want to make sure you’ve got them covered,” Mayor Jerry Autrey said.

“I know when other supervisors have been out in the past we’ve always been good to pitch in and help each other out,” McCloud said.

Alderman Stan Harrison asked Police Chief Tony Jones about McCloud’s request.

“I know from past experiences that I’m going to be getting phone calls, … especially if it gets down to a close race,” Jones replied. … “It creates a problem for us, … him trying to work continuously for the city and out here; … first thing somebody’s going to say is that he’s politicking while he’s on city business,” the chief continued. The officer would turn in his city cell phone and his patrol car to curtail questions of impropriety, Jones said.

“What I’m asking you is, do you feel comfortable with your department realigning it with him not being there for this amount of time?” Harrison asked further.

“We miss anybody who’s not there, … well I’ve got Captain (Clyde) Estridge, and he’s run the shifts before, so I’ve got somebody to fall in place,” the police chief said.

“My concern would be setting some kind of precedent,” Alderman Eddie Nabors said.

Assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell said McCloud’s request offered the city a benefit in that it avoided the appearance of a conflict of interest.

“If another employee came in he or she would need to show you a similar benefit to the city,” Mitchell said. “In fact, if Jimmy didn’t offer this, I would recommend that it be something y’all consider asking him to do,” the attorney continued.

McCloud’s request prompted further discussion about the city’s leave and vacation policy. Aldermen Ted Stewart and Teddy Morrow joined Harrison and Nabors to approve McCloud’s request. Alderman Bill Dugger was absent.

In other police business, aldermen approved the police chief’s request for a grant-funded purchase of a Chevrolet Tahoe vehicle under state contract for $25,085. The city is eligible for a $30,000 Homeland Security grant for the purchase of the vehicle which will serve as the “prime mover” of an officer and his dog. The dog has been cross-trained to assist in multiple tasks, Jones said.