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Hayden outlines initial changes at sheriff's office



BY TOM BERRY news@mayfield-messenger.com

Graves County Sheriff Jon Hayden told county fiscal court officials Monday night that changes at the sheriff's office have begun and much more can be expected.

Hayden, who was chosen by Judge-Executive Jesse Perry to succeed late Sheriff Dewayne Redmon recently, told commissioners Tyler Goodman, Todd Hayden and Richie Galloway that the sheriff's office is staffed with experienced, dedicated personnel who "work hard" and want to do a good job for the community.

However, he said there is a lot of work to do and he's looking at several changes that he hopes to make before his appointment ends in November with the election of a new sheriff.

"I'm trying to get my head wrapped around the way we're doing things," Sheriff Hayden said. "My list of things to do is only three pages long."

Hayden said one of his top priorities is already underway: having deputies present at Graves County schools when children were coming in for classes or going home afterward.

Hayden said deputies not on-call for other duties would be present at schools as much as possible.

"Deputies have been asked to rotate schools so that they all receive some extra patrols during these times," Hayden said in a separate online statement Tuesday. "There have been no threats or information of any kind received that has contributed to the policy change. It is simply an initiative to help keep our children safe."

Also on the list are suggested ways to make paying tax bills each year easier for county residents and office staff, including online payments and the use of credit cards during personal visits to the sheriff's office. The use of mail and personal visits with payments by check or cash will continue.

"We want to make it easier to pay a tax bill," Hayden told the court Monday night.

In a Facebook post concerning the issue of expanded tax payment procedures, Hayden invited public comment on any of the proposed changes.

"If you have an opinion on this issue, and if you think you would utilize either of these services, please offer us your opinion," he said. "If there are things we can do to make payment easier for you, we will consider making them available." Technology updates are also in the works.

Recently, Chief Sheriff's Deputy Davant Ramage and Detective Steve Halsell petitioned the court for assistance in upgrading the department's communications gear.

Hayden added that he is taking a look at what needs to be done.

"We are going to take a look at what works and what don't," Hayden told the court. "Work out a way we can be better."

Hayden also mentions possible personnel changes but did not go into detail. The sheriff's office recently hired two deputies, who were sworn in by Circuit Judge Tim Stark.

Perry and the commissioners thanked Hayden for his efforts.

"I think things are going in a positive way," Perry said. "You've got a big task and I appreciate what you do."

In a related matter, the court approved the first reading of an ordinance allowing the Graves County Sheriff's Office to institute "fee pooling" in regard to tax and fee collections and the payment of bills.

Perry noted that the move had been requested by Redmon to upgrade the department's financial accountability structure as required by the state. The Graves County Sheriff's Office -- and many other departments across Kentucky -- have been criticized for years for not having enough accountability over public collection of taxes and fees as well as bill payments, primarily by not having enough staff with oversight of taxpayer dollars.

Under the "fee pooling" system, sheriff's office personnel will collect all fees and payments, but then will transfer the funds to County Treasurer Codie Courtney for payment of bills, providing more accountability in the department's financial transactions.

In other actions, commissioners:

• approved advertising for bids for replacement of a control panel that operates security doors at Graves County Jail as requested by Jailer George Workman.

• approved Redmon's 2018 property tax settlement.

• declared two Dodge Charger cruisers, belonging to the Graves County Sheriff's Office, as surplus for public auction.

• approved payment of bills for the past month and a 2019 financial report requested by Treasurer Codie Courtney.