Jackson takes over as sheriff, Smith headed to DA’s office

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


his week, long-term sheriff Grover Smith handed over the reigns to Brewton native and new sheriff Heath Jackson.

Jackson’s swearing in ceremony was held on Friday at the courthouse.

Jackson remarked during his ceremony that becoming sheriff was something that he wanted to do for a long time.

He has spent the last 30 or so days working with Smith getting to know the department.

At Monday’s county commission meeting, Jackson said, “It’s hard to follow in the footsteps of an honorable man.”

He also told commissioners that the good-working relationship between the sheriff’s offie and the county commission won’t stop. “I think you are going to be impressed with a lot of the things we are going to do,” he said. “I’m here for you.”

But what’s next for Smith?

Smith served four terms as the sheriff and in March, he’ll mark some 46 years in law enforcement. He began his tour in law enforcement at the Flomaton Police Department in 1973.

He also worked at East Brewton and the city of Brewton before the sheriff’s department.

When asked if he’s retiring, Smith said he plans on doing some part-time work with the district attorney.

“I’ve got a couple little things going,” Smith said. “I’ll be working with the district attorney on a part time basis helping his office get ready to go to trial, hopefully be able to facilitate major cases they got sitting there, reviewing them and so forth.

“It won’t be a lot,” he said. “I think I’ll enjoy that as long as I’m serving a purpose.”

On his thoughts overall serving as sheriff, Smith said he couldn’t have asked for a better county commission.

“I’ve had the opportunity to go across the state to other counties and see how other county commissions in counties go through,” he said. “Through no skill on my part, I’ve picked the best one to be sheriff at. We’ve had a great relationship with the commission.

“There were those who encouraged me said kind things to help me feel better about myself, and those who said things critical, but not necessary kind helped make me a better sheriff,” he said. “While I like the first, you need the second. Between the two, both of them helped make me a better person.”

Over the 16 years as sheriff, Smith said the biggest change he’s seen is the jail overcrowding issue.

At present, he said there are more than 300 inmates housed in the jail due to sentencing guideline changes.

“For possession of drugs, you can’t get in prison for that,” he said. “Stealing and drugs are the No.1 crimes
(for local inmates.) It makes it hard for law enforcement when we’re getting the same person over and over. Whether it’s by design or not, the legislature has transferred the burden of these persons to the county jails. It can be taxing on our resources or local law enforcement.”

Smith added that technology has been a big change for the ECSO as each deputy now carries a computer in their cars so that they can transmit reports to the central server in Brewton.

Smith is married to Patsy; has two children, Wendy Shue and Renee McInnish; and one granddaughter, Emily Ann Nixon.