Sheriff Darby

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 6, 2012

Sheriff: ready to work hard, listen

By Billy Davis

Panola County Sheriff Dennis Darby made his appointment for chief deputy official on Tuesday when he asked the Board of Supervisors to approve the hiring of Chris Franklin, one of two immediate hirings at the sheriff’s department.

Supervisors approved Franklin’s hiring and also approved the rehiring of Bubba Moore, who had previously worked as canine officer for the department until he quit in January 2011.
Franklin was hired at an annual salary of $49,992. Moore’s salary was set at $2,500 monthly, or $30,000 annually.

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Darby, making his first appearance as Panola sheriff at a Board of Supervisors meeting, also announced his intention to create a standardized base pay for jobs within the department.

“Some people within the department are making more than people who have been there four or five years,” Darby told supervisors.

The new sheriff told supervisors he intends to increase salaries incrementally within the department and followed by acknowledging “tough economic times” saying he would “go slow” to increase salaries.

The sheriff later told The Panolian he plans to utilize the salaries of employees who did not return to the sheriff’s department under his term, distributing their pay among employees instead of filling the now-vacant positions.

The sheriff told supervisors that salaries for three Narcotics Task Force employees adjusted last month were reverting back to their original amounts following a mix-up that had Panola County contributing more to cover a grant shortfall that has since been approved.

Darby’s address to supervisors Tuesday touched several topics  first recalling the oath of office taken, with other public officials, at the Batesville courthouse December 28.

“I took this position under oath… I’m very sincere about what I do,” Darby said. “…This is a 24/7 job and I will not take it for less.

“I will have an open-door policy,” Darby said. “… we can discuss the good, the bad and the ugly.”

He also said the sheriff’s department will be involved in Panola County’s schools. “These babies need some help,” he said of students.

“I will be a good listener,” Darby also said. “I listen to wise counsel.”

Darby, 56, narrowly defeated incumbent sheriff Otis Griffin in the November 8 election, which marked their second match-up on the ballot in two years.

Those runs came after he retired from the Mississippi Highway Patrol where he received numerous awards and citations. During the most recent race, he promised to rein in spending, maintain a professionally run department and lead an effort to crack down on illegal narcotics.