COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The escaped inmate incident from Lauderdale County has garnered national attention; in Muscogee County, Sheriff Countryman is working to deter these types of relationships from ever forming.
Sheriff Countryman says he has been following this story just as the rest of the country has. He says he does feel for the Lauderdale County Sheriff; the betrayal and broken trust is something Sheriff Countryman experienced on a smaller scale here in Muscogee County.
This April, the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of a correctional officer after the officer allegedly provided contraband for inmates. When asked about officer/inmate relations, Sheriff Countryman said it simply: correctional officers are there to make sure the inmates are safe, fed and their medical needs are provided for. They are not there to establish friendships or relationships.
When asked about the incident in Lauderdale County, Sheriff Countryman said the following:
“I think that the public should know that we hold our officers and our law enforcement officers, our deputies to a high standard, but at the end of the day these are human beings,” Countryman said. “They do make mistakes, and this was a very costly mistake.”
Sheriff Countryman says in Muscogee County, there is no situation in which a correctional officer would be allowed to leave with an inmate. The policy is that a deputy would have to be transporting the inmate, and typically that inmate would be in handcuffs, a belly chain and ankle chains as a precaution.
Deputies have the authority, the arresting powers and the jurisdiction to deal with an inmate. Sheriff Countryman says when officials saw Vicky White taking Casey White outside of the jail, red flags should have gone up.
While humans are unpredictable and he may not know 100% of everything that is going on, Sheriff Countryman said he wants to have his finger on the pulse as much as possible.
Sheriff Countryman said the incident they had in April was a wake up call for him. He says he is making it a priority to go down to the county jail and talk to correctional officers – to build that trust on a personal level.