Grand jury again asks for increase in security
By Dwayne Bremer
Feb 11, 2014, 20:20
The outgoing Hancock County Grand Jury on Tuesday issued its final report which included a call for the Hancock County Board of Supervisors to increase law enforcement staff levels and salaries; provide better security at the Hancock County Courthouse; and have blood drawn on all suspected DUI cases.
Grand juries in Mississippi are made up of 20 residents from their respective counties.
The grand jury serves a six-month term, meeting twice every other month. It hears cases and decides whether indictments should be issued. It also hears from elected, law enforcement, and other officials about the status of the county.
The past grand jury served from August 2012 until this week.
Grand Jury Foreman Jason Chiniche read the groups final report in Hancock County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
According to the report, 56 indictments, or "True Bills," were issued. 35 cases were not indicted, or "No True Billed."
The list of cases which were indicted or no true billed will not be available until defendants are served with their indictments or victims are notified, officials said Tuesday.
In addition, the grand jury passed two cases to the next grand jury and returned 22 cases to county and municipal courts for adjudication.
In its recommendations, which are non-binding, the grand jury encouraged the Hancock County Board of Supervisors to increase spending on law enforcement in the county.
Last year, supervisors cut the sheriff's office budget by $400,000.
"We recommend the board of supervisors evaluate the staffing levels of the Hancock County Sheriff's Office for additional road officers, criminal investigators, and narcotics agents," the report said. "The grand jury further recommends local governments review and evaluate law enforcement salaries to be competitive with similar law enforcement agencies."
Other recommendations included continuing law enforcement education and investigative training; drawing blood for all DUI cases, improving the quality of video and audio recordings; and that the county assist the department of Human Services with the "growing number of children in their custody."
In a separate recommendation, the grand jury suggested that security at the courthouse be improved by adding metal detectors and video surveillance.
Previous grand juries have made similar recommendations.
Finally, the grand jury asked that county officials give updates to the next grand jury about the recommendations.
After Chincihe submitted the report, Circuit Court Judge John Gargiulo dismissed the outgoing grand jury and a new grand jury was subsequently selected. The new grand jury will meet from now until August.