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Sheriff responds to Henderson incident

COVINGTON, Ga. - The Covington News reached out to Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown with questions regarding the recent incidnet at District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson's house. 

The News posed the following questions to Brown:

  • Thursday, April 19, a call was reported at Commissioner J.C. Henderson’s house. According to the 911 recording, this call came from Sheriff Brown. Is it standard practice for the Sheriff to take emergency calls?
  • Is it common practice for NCSO to respond to calls within the City of Covington? Why wasn’t CPD dispatched when Puckett Street is within CPD’s jurisdiction?
  • How many county calls were holding at the time of the incident (10 p.m., April 19, 2018)?
  • Would a regular citizen (non-elected official) have gotten that kind of response when calling the sheriff to report an alleged assault?
  • Do you think this was an appropriate action for the commissioner to take? Do you often get calls from elected officials and/or citizens reporting crimes?
  • Has Commissioner Henderson been instructed to call 911 in the future?

The following comments are presented as they were received by Brown in response to those questions:

As a constitutional elected Sheriff, I recognize and accept that I am given a special trust and confidence by the citizens and employees whom I have been elected to serve, represent and manage.

This trust and confidence will always be my bond to assure that I shall behave and act accordingly to the highest personal and professional standards. The Sheriff has a multitude of duties and responsibilities, from a mediator to a spiritual leader.

Duties of the Sheriff as enumerated in O.C.G.A § 15-16-10

Some of the main duties include but are not limited to:

  • To execute and return the processes and orders of the court;
  • To attend, by himself or his duty, upon all sessions of the superior court of the county and also upon sessions of the probate court whenever required, and while the courts are in session, never to leave the same without the presence of himself or his deputy, or both, if required;
  • To keep an execution docket wherein he must enter a full description of all executions delivered to him and the dates of their delivery, together with all actions thereon;
  • To receive from the preceding sheriff all unexecuted writs and processes and proceed to execute the same; to carry into effect any levy or arrest made by a predecessor; to put purchasers into possession, and to make titles to purchasers at his or her predecessor’s sales, when not done by his or her predecessor;
  • To perform such other duties as are or may be imposed by law or which necessarily appertain to his or her office;
  • To exercise the same duties, powers, and arrest authority within municipalities which such officer exercises in the unincorporated areas of counties; and
  • To develop and implement a comprehensive plan for the security of the county courthouse and any courthouse annex. The sheriff shall be responsible to conduct a formal review of the security plan not less than every four years.

If any sheriff or deputy fails to comply with any of these duties, he shall be fined for a contempt and is subject to removal.

Additional Duties

The duties and responsibilities that the Office of the Sheriff is charged with performing by statutory law are broad and varied as follows:

  • Fulfill and enforce the laws governing raffles
  • Receive, maintain, and make available a register of all known sex offenders as prescribed by law.
  • Receive, confine, feed, and care for all persons charged with violations of county ordinances, or indictable offenses, or otherwise confined to jail.

Title 15, Chapter 16, Section 10 makes it clear that the Sheriff has as much authority within municipalities as he does in unincorporated areas of his County. However, the Sheriff does make every attempt to respect the local municipal authorities.  It is not uncommon for Sheriff Brown to receive emergency calls from citizens of Newton County. Some calls are passed on and some are handled by the Sheriff. In fact, many Newton County citizens have Sheriff Brown’s cell phone number. Sheriff Brown makes it his practice to answer every call from Newton County citizens. He has received calls that are within City limits many times and he would then call dispatch himself to report the nature of the call for service.  Sheriff Brown does make every attempt to respect the authority of all local municipalities within Newton County. 

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office has the responsibility to respond to every demand for service from citizens of Newton County. Shift supervisors on duty have the responsibility for prioritizing calls. Fortunately, this was one of the few times there were no calls pending. If I receive a call I always call the supervisor on shift and/or dispatch and from there it is up to the shift supervisor to prioritize the call. I would like for people to clearly understand that if city police departments close down today or decide they will no longer take any calls for service after a certain time a day they can. The Sheriff’s Office cannot. I am mandated by the constitution to serve and uphold the law within all the cities of Newton County 24 hours 7 days per week. For example, when city PD’s have their holiday events and not take calls during that time, the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for responding to those calls. When Porterdale or Oxford police departments are shot hand or close down for any reason the Sheriff’s Office fills in and answer calls. There were no special privileges in responding to this call. We regularly work calls inside the city limits.

In fact, for over 40 years, Sheriff Brown has responded to and handled calls for service in Covington, Mansfield, Newborn, Oxford, Porterdale as well as the unincorporated areas of Newton County. Upon the leadership of Sheriff Malcolm and Sheriff Nichols, Sheriff Brown has made it clear; if a citizen of Newton County were to request the services of the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, the Newton County Sheriff’s office will respond.

The Sheriff’s Office is not a political or pay for play organization. We are driven by the Constitution. This is not an uncommon occurrence and I have responded to other calls for service in this same manner involving other citizens many times before. If everyone will focus on what happened and not who it happened to, then you will be able to understand the dynamics and put things into perspective. Sheriff Ezell Brown and his staff treat every citizen equal regardless of their status.