There are defining moments in the careers of every leader.
These moments teach valuable lessons, and they often serve to prepare these individuals for their leadership roles.
For Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott, the storm outbreak of April, 2011 shined light on his talents as a law enforcement officer, and it exposed some weaknesses in local emergency response which Scott began to address as soon as he was elected the following November.
“I really learned a lot from that storm,” Scott told the West Point Rotary Club during the group’s first meeting of 2013 on Thursday. “I saw some things that we needed to do.”
The storm system which ravaged many small north Mississippi towns, as well as towns in Alabama dropped a tornado on the northwestern corner of the county in Montpelier.
Already in a role of leadership as Chief Deputy at the time, Scott saw a great need for a mobile command center, and he has since secured one as sheriff.
“We didn’t have a place for our officers to work out of or even go in and take a nap,” Scott said. “Officers can go in and set up their computers and work.”
Thanks to a generator, the MCC is fully functional, and Scott says that it has already come in handy. In one circumstance, it was used when there were persons missing in a wooded area.
While attempting to make significant improvements in the department, Scott is aware that budgets are tight. That is why he has secured funding for many projects from sources other than the local taxpayers, including the local drug fund.
Scott says that money and actual property and assets seized during drug busts provide financial flexibility.
Scott says that his department has seen a 70 percent decrease in the number of meth labs in the county, and five dump sites have been located during the past year.
Over 500 pounds of marijuana has been seized by CCSD, and over $120,000 in currency has been yielded during busts, as well as 100 illegal firearms taken.
Overall, Scott says that crime is down in the county, netting 140 felonies in 2012.
“Crime is down in the county,” Scott said.
Scott said that one of the major tools in the fight against illegal drugs is education.
“If we can educate and stop the addiction, we will do a lot of good,” Scott said.
He also added that drugs like cocaine, marijuana and meth have taken a backseat to the prescription drug problems that have arisen.
“There’s two things that will happen to you if you’re addicted to prescription pills, “ Scott said. “You will either die of an overdose or you will end up spending time in the penitentiary.
The department will also get help from the drug dog, Kilo, which was recently donated to the CCSD.
“He will make a difference in Clay County,” Scott said.
Scott commended his force for its diligence in fighting crime and serving the citizens of Clay County, sometimes even after hours.
It is a force that has seen little turnover since Scott took over as sheriff, and he looks to push toward higher goals in 2013.
“It’s a fun job,” he said. “It’s a high-pressure job because you’re always striving to take things to a higher level, but I’m very fortunate.”
Scott was the guest of Rotarian Jim Cook.