Mayor Alberta McCrory said this week there are still some minor details to work out between the city and the Sheriff’s Office. She and Sheriff Larry Amerson met several weeks ago and the two are “still working on the terms of the agreement.”
McCrory said she hopes to have a deputy protecting the nearly 800 residents of Hobson City by May 1.
“We want to make this happen so we can all feel safer in Hobson City,” McCrory said.
The mayor said law enforcement is needed in the town, not just for drug-related crimes, but simply because people don’t obey the law.
“We feel like we’ve been taken advantage of because we don’t have a police force in place,” McCrory said.
The Hobson City Police Department was disbanded in 2007 because the town could no longer pay officers’ salaries.
McCrory said a majority of the money used to pay for the deputy will come from the town’s general fund, with some financial help coming from the Calhoun County Commission.
For Larry Rogers, owner of I-20 Bingo, a deputy could deter people from breaking into his business.
Since his business opened in March, it’s been burglarized twice. Rogers said nothing was taken from the bingo hall because he doesn’t keep money in the building when it’s closed.
“I’ve started taking the cash out of the ATM machine so there’s literally no cash in the building whatsoever,” Rogers said.
During another incident, a security guard discovered someone tampering with a fence around an outside air-conditioning unit, Rogers said. He believed someone was trying to steal the condensers to sell at a scrapyard.
Rogers said he was impressed at how quickly the Sheriff’s Office responded when the bingo hall’s security alarm went off. It only took a deputy eight minutes to arrive, he said.
“I was very pleased with an eight-minute response,” Rogers said. “Eight minutes in this day and age, that’s quick.”
Rogers said he was certain as Hobson City progresses that “permanent security would be put into place, whether that’s the Sheriff’s Office or Oxford police.”
Amerson said Hobson City is willing to pay the Sheriff’s Office $1,500 per month, which would not be enough for a full-time deputy. A deputy’s starting salary is $28,000, Amerson said, which does not include benefits, equipment or training.
“Certainly money is a real issue for them and they would like additional coverage. We don’t have a problem with that,” Amerson said.
The sheriff said it’s likely deputies would be assigned to Hobson City on an overtime basis. Amerson said while his office does receive calls from Hobson City residents about drugs and gunshots, he doesn’t see the town as having an exorbitant amount of crime.
“If the perception is that you live in a high-crime area, it doesn’t matter what the crime rate is,” Amerson said.
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.