NCSO em­ploy­ees head to hur­ri­cane-rav­aged area

Team part of a multi-county unit de­ployed for law en­force­ment re­lief

The Covington News - - Local news -

Four lo­cal deputies headed off to Louisiana yes­ter­day for a mu­tual aid stint of up to two weeks to help fel­low law en­force­ment of­fi­cers with post- hur­ri­cane sup­port.

New­ton County Sher­iff ’s Of­fice Capt. Marty Roberts, 1st Lt. Mark Mitchell, Sgt. Randy Downs and Deputy Kevin Watkins scram­bled to pack and pre­pare to leave about two hours af­ter they re­ceived the fi­nal word Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Along with deputies from Bar­tow, Cobb, Forsyth, Har­ris, Oconee and Wal­ton coun­ties and headed by Oconee County Sher­iff Scott Berry, they’ll be as­sist­ing the deputies of As­cen­sion Parish, which sits about half­way be­tween Ba­ton Rouge and New Orleans.

“ Th­ese are smaller coun­ties that don’t have that many em­ploy­ees, so our deputies are go­ing over there to re­lieve lo­cal deputies,” said New­ton County Sher­iff Joe Ni­chols, adding that many of the parish deputies have al­ready worked long hours dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Gus­tav’s pro­gres­sion.

The Na­tional Sher­iff ’s As­so­ci­a­tion first put out word early this week to Ge­or­gia and sev­eral sur­round­ing states that Louisiana might need mu­tual aid, said Ni­chols.

“ Sher­iffs tra­di­tion­ally and his­tor­i­cally have done this,” he said. “ If we have, God for­bid, dam­age in south Ge­or­gia, deputies will come from north Ge­or­gia to help.”

The ini­tial es­ti­mate of about 200 deputies was re­duced to 40 by the time the for­mal re­quest went out Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The NCSO deputies sent were cho­sen be­cause of their train­ing and will­ing­ness to go, Ni­chols said, but many more vol­un­teered than were cho­sen.

He em­pha­sized that the salaries, over­time, mileage and ex­penses of the four deputies, while they were pro­vid­ing mu­tual aid, would be re­im­bursed by the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency to lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions.

“ So it’s not the ( lo­cal) tax­pay­ers pay­ing for this,” he said.

New­ton County has pro­vided as­sis­tance to a num­ber of coun­ties over the years, Ni­chols said, in­clud­ing to Rock­dale County for a lab fire and Wal­ton County for an in­ci­dent in down­town Mon­roe. New­ton has not had to re­quest aid within re­cent years.

“ We’ve been for­tu­nate,” Ni­chols said. “ I’d rather be go­ing to help some­body else than hav­ing them help us. No­body wants ter­ri­ble de­struc­tion in their ju­ris­dic­tion.”

Hit­ting the road:

Michelle Kim/The Cov­ing­ton News

New­ton County Sher­iff's Of­fice 1st Lt. Mark Mitchell packs the trunk of his pa­trol car as he and other Sher­iff's Deputies pre­pare to leave for Gon­za­les, La., Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

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