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Town of Dozier demands change in deputy patrol

Since May 2014,  the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office has been responsible for providing deputy patrol to the Town of Dozier and the area of South Crenshaw County.

Since May 2014, the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office has been responsible for providing deputy patrol to the Town of Dozier and the area of South Crenshaw County.

“We’ve had officers down there before this ever happened. There has been an officer in Dozier since May 1, 2014,” said Crenshaw County Sheriff Mickey Powell.

“We’re down there periodically at no given time. I had just gone through there myself 45 minutes before the bank robbery.”

After the robbery of the First National Bank of Dozier that took place on Dec. 23, Dozier council members and residents remain concerned with the safety of their town and businesses.

The town also took the opportunity at their recent town council meeting to confront Powell about their current arrangement with the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office for deputy patrol in Dozier.

“Like we said in the meeting, we’re going to give it some time, and if it doesn’t improve then we’re going to quit paying the money,” said Dozier Mayor Henry Merrill.

Powell said that in the last nine months he has had two officers quit and get out of law enforcement all together.

According to Powell, the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office currently has six patrol officers, two investigators, one resource officer and one chief deputy, in addition to the sheriff.

In March 2013, former Dozier Police Chief Terry Mears resigned. After more than a year of deliberation, it was decided that the town would contract with the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office for deputy patrol.

With this agreement in place, the Town of Dozier, along with the Housing Authority, agreed to pay for the salary of a deputy.

According to the 2014 contract between the Town of Dozier and Crenshaw County, one additional full-time deputy must be assigned to assist with police protection in South Crenshaw County.

This agreement went into affect on May 1, 2014, and since then, $2,333 per month has been remitted to the Crenshaw County Commission for patrol. The commission supplies insurance and benefits for the deputy.

Along with this agreement, the council also provides office space in town hall, a computer, Internet and restroom facilities to the deputy.

To help with the need in Dozier, Powell said he has hired Quinton Benton as the new deputy for South Crenshaw County.

“Quinton was hired for the Dozier job. He’s trying to get out of his current lease to move to Dozier where he can be closer,” Powell said.

“He’s only been here since the latter part of December, but he’s adjusted and is catching on fast. I think he’s going to do an excellent job for us and for Dozier. It’s just going to take him awhile to learn the folks and who all is supposed to be there, but that just takes time and takes talking to them.”

The town boasts a population of 329, according to the 2010 Census, and has a handful of businesses, including the First National Bank of Dozier, a convenience store and package store, restaurant, medical clinic and a building supply store.

“We’re going to give it a month, we pay by the month, so we’re going to wait and see how it turns out,” Merrill said.

“We’re just trying to give Mickey a chance to improve it, and if he can’t hold up that end, we’re going to drop it.”