After reviewing the issues that faced the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office in 2016, I see just how far we have come! When I took office in January of 2017 the Office had a history of budget overages totaling 13 million dollars for the past 8 years. In 2018, we returned $551,000 to the Columbus Consolidated Government.
I campaigned on the promise that I would work with other elected leaders to bring about a reasonable budget and direct the mission of the Sheriff’s Office in accordance with that budget. We have been successful! I also promised to restore broken relationships with your elected and appointed leaders. We have been successful! By working diligently to restore Integrity to the Office of Sheriff, we have regained the trust that had been lost.
Prior to taking office, there was a pending lawsuit with the city that ultimately cost the taxpayers nearly 3 million dollars. I dismissed that suit the first week in office, ending the waste of taxpayer dollars.
As the Sheriff, I stood up to fight for equal pay for the Sheriff’s Office. Subsequently, all of our correctional officers and deputies received pay adjustments. Additionally, they have received a bonus for the last 2 budget years. We have been successful!
However, we are still a work in progress! There is much more to do and I am committed to doing it. My one and only job, my greatest privilege, my calling and purpose, is to serve you, the citizens of Muscogee County as your Sheriff.
The foundation has been laid to address the challenges that we will face in 2020 and beyond. When I took office in 2017, we were under a DOJ lawsuit for jail conditions that had been ongoing for 20 years. In July of 2019 that lawsuit was dismissed. We have been successful! We have come a long way but we cannot afford to step back.
We have worked with the Mayor, City Manager and Council to address many issues within the county jail to include a new generator, a new kitchen floor, repairing shower leaks, and the repair of the old Stockade. We have also chosen a new health care provider for inmates and renegotiated mental health services for inmates. By addressing these jail infrastructure issues, we are striving to provide a constitutionally safe environment for those in our charge. Together with your elected leaders, we are addressing issues. We are clearly “Under Construction” and moving forward.
In 2018, I began releasing city ordinance violators and certain low level misdemeanor arrestees on their own recognizance. Even after these initiatives, the jail population continues to rise. As of September 2019, 75 people were in the Muscogee County Jail charged with murder. On any given day we have 350-500 known gang members. Another critical concern about our population is that approximately 400 inmates have some type of mental health diagnosis. These are the areas that we must address going forward.
Another critical challenge facing all law enforcement is the recruitment and retention of officers. This is a national problem and one that the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office deals with daily. Our core functions include staffing the jail, providing courtroom and courthouse security, serving civil process and warrants, transporting mental health patients and monitoring 540 registered sex offenders. We have amazing dedicated employees and we are working persistently to recruit for vacant positions.
We have been successful, and I believe that I am still the person best prepared to address these challenges. My door is always open to hear from you. I ask for the opportunity to continue to serve you with Integrity, Commitment and Experience. This is our community and as your Sheriff, I pledge to continue to work every day to keep it strong and safe.
I am asking for your vote and your support in the May 2020 Democratic Primary. Together we can create a better Columbus, prepared for the challenges ahead.
Sheriff Donna Tompkins
Democratic Candidate for Muscogee County Sheriff
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