BOONEVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) — Law enforcment agencies are faced with a number of financial challenges.
But there is a form of relief thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Attorney General's Office.
The Prentiss County Sheriff's Department, which has two criminal investigators, sometimes relies on the grant to help to cover expenses.
"We work a lot of long hours," says Derrick Hester, investigator for the Prentiss County Sheriff's Department. "Any kind of help we can get, we appreciate. The way the economy is today, we have ongoing property crimes as well as other crimes that we have to work."
When there is a heavy workload, additional staff is sometimes needed in the form of reserve or part-time officers to help out.
That way, officers say, local residents can be assured the department is not understaffed while working on major cases.
"It helps us meet the needs that the people expect us to provide for them," adds Randy Tolar, sheriff for Prentiss County. "Then, in turn, during the course of our budget year, it assists us in offsetting those costs of our budgets that prevent us a lot of times from going into the red."
There are some stipulations for being approved for the Rural Law Enforcement Grant.
One of those stipulations is that the law enforcement agency does not receive a check for one large sum of money. The money provided comes on an as needed basis.
"We actually pay the officer out of our general fund that's allotted to the sheriff's department," adds Tolar. "We pay them out of that. Then, in turn, whatever particular agency — in that case, it was the attorney general's office — then they would allocate those funds to us."
The sheriff adds the grant has helped reduce major and more serious crimes that require extensive investigative hours.
"The latest grant through the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, it actually gives us more manpower to help us," says Hester, "especially when we have the major cases — what we consider major cases — that take a lot of man hours to work."
Law enforcement officers say that will normally lead to an arrest or a solution to the problem sooner than later.
Two other grants just awarded to the Prentiss County Sheriff's Department from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety will help with equipment and overtime pay.