Sardis Police Chief

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sardis chief steps aside for probe

By Rupert Howell and Billy Davis

Panola Sheriff Otis Griffin said Sardis experienced a “quiet” weekend January 29 and 30, just hours after the sheriff’s department took over operations of the Sardis Police Department.

The sheriff’s department took over at the request of city leaders, after the city’s police chief and assistant chief agreed to administrative leave Friday.

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Chief Marcel Jojola and Assistant Chief Jim Hammer agreed to “temporary, voluntary leave” pending an investigation by the Miss. Bureau of Investigations, City Attorney Tommy Shuler confirmed.

The action was taken Friday morning at a called meeting, where city leaders went into executive session to request an MBI investigation and to hand administrative responsibilities to the sheriff’s department.

Shuler did not describe the reason for the state investigation nor give a reason for the suspensions.

Lieutenants within the sheriff’s department are operating as shift commanders for Sardis police officers, Griffin said last Friday.

“Most of the officers are still on the job,” said the sheriff. “All the brass is gone.”

Griffin said he was concerned that Sardis has only one officer working at night, saying at least one sheriff’s deputy will remain in or around the city as backup for the patrolman.  

“It’s a safety issue as far as I’m concerned,” the sheriff said.

The sheriff’s department will remain in its role as long as city leaders request the help, Griffin said.