From the Sheriff – Sheriff adjusts policies, plans crackdown on illegal racing The Copiah County Sheriff’s Office is making some changes in operations and services offered, and Sheriff Byron Swilley wants to let residents know what to expect. Swilley, who took office earlier this month, has made the decision for deputies to stop unlocking vehicles unless there is an emergency and wants to stop illegal racing on public roads in the county. Swilley said that in the past, as a courtesy, deputies have unlocked vehicles for unfortunate motorists who have locked their keys in their vehicles. In some instances, vehicles are damaged, creating a liability problem for the department. Also, Swilley said, manpower becomes an issue. In doing his research, he found that some shifts had up to eight unlock calls. Those calls take deputies away from patrolling and other emergency work. Because of the liability and the diversion of emergency resources from more pressing issues, the decision was made to discontinue the service. Unlocks will continue to be done in emergency situations such as medical emergencies or children locked in a car. Drag Racing Racing on public roads is an issue in Copiah County, based on the frequency of complaints Swilley said his department has received. “We have received a lot of complaints on drag racing,” he said. Deputies will be specifically looking for illegal racing and anyone caught will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and their vehicles will be towed, Swilley said. According to the sheriff, an arrest for racing on public roads carries enhanced penalties because of the danger involved. “I want the public to know that this activity puts other people’s lives in danger, as well as the lives of the participants,” Swilley said. There is also an enhanced penalty if the activity causes injury or death. Swilley advises those thinking about racing on public roads to not put themselves in that situation. Meet the Sheriff Prior to being elected sheriff, Swilley served as Hazlehurst Police Chief. While in that office, he made a point to meet with constituents to keep them updated on issues and to hear their concerns. Swilley plans to continue that tradition with his first “Meet the Sheriff” session in March. Look for time and location to be announced at a later date.