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According to one sheriff, a fee system has this consequence:
If I pursue a robber and after much effort capture him, I
deputies use and which I must pay them for.?
Sheriff Warren of Pike County used 10 deputies to cover an area approximately the same size as Adams County but with twice
23 Miss. Code $$ 3936, 3952 (1956). There is a limited exception permitting payment of expenses not exceeding $500 per annum in certain small counties. Miss. Code § 4171 (1956).
24 Quoted in Moley, The Sheriff and the Constable, 146 Annals 32 (1929).
25 Special statutes permit soine payment out of public funds for a deputy in certain limited situations. See Miss. Code $ 4172 (Supp. 1964) (applicable to not more than nine counties) and Miss. Code 4235.5 (1956) (applicable to not more than six counties). Under an act of the 1964 Mississippi legislature (House Bill No. 564, approved May 22, 1964) sheriffs may appoint, with the approval of the Board of Supervisors, extra deputies who are to be paid out of "available” county funds. It is not known whether in any instance funds have been made available for this purpose.
U.S. Census of Population: 1960, op. cit. supra note 10, at 11, 82.
26 T. 143 27 T. 139.
its rural population.28 Some of these men were part-time officers who worked only in the evenings and held other jobs during the day. He did not add to his force during the violent summer of 1964.29
The principal source of the sheriff's income is the percentage fee he receives for collecting taxes. Mississippi is one of the few remaining States where the sheriff still holds the office of tax collector, as he did in England.30 This aspect of the sheriff's office makes it highly profitable, particularly in the wealthier counties. For example, the present sheriff of Washington County reported a net income of $34,156.97 for his first year in office and the sheriff of Adams County a net income of $21,983.15.* As one sheriff told the Commission, “We make our money on tax collection and lose it on law enforcement.'
Both for tax collection and law enforcement purposes, the sheriff's jurisdiction extends only to the county line. 3 Consequently, he does not investigate incidents of violence which occur in other counties, even though the persons responsible may be thought to reside in his county.
34 Sheriff Warren of Pike County, for example, denied any responsibility for investigating the attack on Andre Martinsons and Rene Jonas, who were followed from Pike County, but beaten in Lincoln County.
As a county official, the sheriff is technically responsible for law enforcement within the cities of his county. But since he generally
28 T. 14. U.S. Census of Population: 1960, op. cit. supra note 10, at 13, 86.
În 12 counties sheriffs reported net incomes of over $20,000. Information obtained from Mississippi Department of State, Jackson.
Testimony of Sheriff Jack Cauthen of Madison County, T. 263.
See, e.g., Testimony of Sheriff Anders of Adams County, T. 50-51; testimony of Sheriff Warren of Pike County, T. 15–16.
35 T. 15-16.
has few deputies and is responsible for a relatively large area, he usually enters into informal agreements not to exercise law enforcement jurisdiction within city limits. Sheriff Warren of Pike County and Sheriff Anders of Adams County both testified that they had such agreements with the McComb and Natchez police departments. The sheriffs relied on such agreements to justify their refusal to investigate city incidents. 37
The sheriff's practice of delegating law enforcement duties to municipal police forces gives the municipal police chief primary responsibility for investigation and control of violence within his jurisdiction. The chief of police may either be elected by the city or appointed by the mayor or aldermen. In either case, he is a salaried officer who is permitted to, and frequently does, succeed himself in office. He has no significant duties other than enforcing the law. As a result, the police chiefs frequently have had the benefit of extensive experience in law enforcement. 39
As the table on page 93 shows, the number of police officers was considerably larger both in absolute and proportional terms than the number of deputy sheriffs. Like the police chief, police officers are salaried men who are paid by the city and frequently serve on a long-term basis.
Despite the differences between sheriffs and police chiefs, there are significant deficiencies in police systems of law enforcement. Elected police chiefs are subject to the same pressures as sheriffs
36 T. 18, 432.
39 Chief Robinson, Natchez, has served as police chief for four years, T. 152; Chief Nix, Laurel, for six years, T. 174; Chief Guy, McComb, for 10 years; T. 33; Chief Burnley, Greenville, for six years, T. 296; Chief Thompson, Canton, for 21
years, T. 265.
40 T. 161.
and a disfranchised Negro community is unlikely to be served adequately.
24, 000 35, 000 12, 000 33, 000 10,000 41, 000
bT. 143 CT. 159. d T. 14.
Moreover, there are no legal requirements that the police hire recruits without discrimination or that they disqualify persons who are members of extremist groups. It was disclosed at the Commission hearing that, except in Greenville, there were no Negro policemen in the problem areas studied. Even though all police chiefs who testified before the Commission said they would exclude extremists from their force, there was a difference of opinion as to what an extremist actually was. It was disclosed that the police chief of McComb had been a member of the Americans for the Preservation of the White Race (APWR)." The police chief of Natchez testified that he would not exclude police officers who were members of the APWR.“ Though the police may have a better institutional framework than the sheriffs, their personnel selection procedures do not help to secure the employment of officers who will carry out law enforcement duties in an impartial and professional way.
41 T. 39-40. 15 T. 154.
In Mississippi, as in other Southern States, the responsibility for prosecuting violations of State law rests with a county or district attorney, who depends almost entirely on the investigative services of the sheriff. The defects in the sheriff's office are thus not remedied by an independent prosecuting and investigating agency." The local prosecutors may prosecute or fail to prosecute at will. The attorney general of the State has no power to remove district or county attorneys who fail to discharge their duties, to compel them to bring or refrain from prosecution, or to bring prosecutions himself upon their default.**
A 1932 study of Mississippi county and local government stated that “a great portion of the failure of district attorneys to perform their duties properly can be traced, not to lack of knowledge, but to a feeling of security that their actions will not be reviewed. Applied to prosecutions for racial violence, this finding still appears sound today.
The contribution that community support for impartial law enforcement, a professional police force, and firmly expressed intentions to enforce the law can make towards preventing racial violence was revealed in the Commission's study of Greenville, Mississippi. Greenville is the county seat of Washington County and the fourth largest city in Mississippi. When Negro leaders from Greenville appeared before the Commission, they were unanimous in expressing confidence in their law enforcement officials. James Edwards, chairman of the local NAACP, testified that the attitude of the Negro community towards law enforcement was “good” and that Negroes believed "we have one of the
*3 The prosecuting attorney is elected by the county or the district. Miss. Code $$ 3910, 3920 (1956).
** Miss. Code $$ 3836-41 (1956); Brookings Institution, op. cit. supra note 9, at 821–23. See also Highsaw and Fortenberry, op. cit. supra note 25, at 162–64.
5 Brookings Institution, op. cit. supra note 9, at 471.