A New Sheriff? JFP Interview with Henry Grigsby | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

A New Sheriff? JFP Interview with Henry Grigsby

Tell me about yourself. I've never heard of you.
I do a little garden work, farming, and I haul a little timber. I live in Utica, out on Morrison Road. I've been a Hinds County resident for 24 years.

Where are you from?
Claiborne County. I went to high school at Addison High School in Port Gibson. Went off to J.P. Camel College, majored there in business administration with some courses in law. Then I attended one semester at Rust College in Holly Springs, MS.

What's your background experience in law enforcement? What have you been doing most of your life?
I've been in the paint business most of my life.

You're a business owner?
No, I worked for companies that manufactured paint in New Orleans, Jackson and in Georgia. I also worked on a security service in New Orleans, along the River-front and Canal (Street). That was part-time. I was working two jobs. I did that there for 12 years. The captain wanted me to get into private investigation but I had a family and I had to have steady money coming in every week.

What brought you into Hinds County?
I was manufacturing paint at a corporation in Jackson, but the big city and the traffic aggravates you so I told my wife, 'I'm going to find some property up in Hinds and cut down on some of this traveling."

So what is your experience in law enforcement?
I was in law enforcement in New Orleans--

At the New Orleans Police Department?
No, with (private) security. They had contracts with the federal government and the state for patrol of the canal zones and things, and running patrol through there, and I did some other law enforcement work, too. When I came to Mississippi, though, I got a job in manufacturing paint, and said I wasn't going to fool with security, but I ended up doing a few years with Capital Security. I got into the timber business then.

Okay. ... So what's your interest in the sheriff's race?
I'm interested in the sheriff's position because people are being treated unfair.

How so?
The sheriff is saying he's going to do this and that, but the people out in Utica aren't getting any service for their money. They don't get no patrol, and people will put in calls (to the sheriff's department) out here and sometimes you see (a patrol vehicle) and sometimes you don't. We just don't see the effort.
I'm campaigning now because people are telling me that they're being robbed and they call the sheriff's department but nobody shows up or they may show up maybe an hour or two hours later.

How far away are you from the county seat?
From down here where I live to the corner of Hwy 18 and 220, that's 25 miles. Then you're looking at another four, five or six miles

Can you tell if crime is on the rise in Utica?
It's the same all over. You got your drug problems, you got your robbing and stuff and different things going on. But if you have patrol service—and I was in that business—you'll slow the crime down. There aren't any ifs, ands or buts about it. People aren't going to do anything illegal if there's a patrol vehicle every time they turn around.

The sheriff says he's got a budget for only a handful of patrol people. I think he's only got about 45 patrol people on staff.
There's no such thing as 'you can't make the patrol.' The taxpayer is paying the money, but they're not getting anything for it. It's just a matter of spending your money more wisely. ... People in the county have high taxes. They ought to be able to give us back more for all the money we pay.

I don't remember a time when the sheriff didn't complain about having enough money to suit his needs. There's always a tug of war between the sheriff and the supervisors over funding. What will you bring to the table to help?
I can work with the county's budget because I have experience in business. I used to be a production manager, so I know how to spend money wisely.

Do you think your background qualifies you to run a county budget that's almost $20 million?
I was in manufacturing for 20 years and I did production management for 11. That's making decisions. I was in that position for 11 years and never had an order bounce back on me. You have to take that job seriously. It's the same as running the sheriff's department. You have to take it very seriously because you're dealing with the taxpayer's money.

You'll probably get into some fights with the supervisors. If you're sheriff, you'll need money, and they've got the money that you'll need. Are you ready to deal with those guys?
I'll be ready to let them know what things will be going on. I'm ready to get to know them, but they already know me. I'm the one standing on the picket lines on Hwy 18, fighting for the community. Supervisor Doug Anderson and Supervisor George Smith, they know me well. I live in Mr. Smith's district and we have a pretty good relationship. They know I stand up for rights.

There's a problem with the county jail. It's got faulty locks, a leaky roof and a million and one malfunctions. What will you do with it?
I'm glad you asked about that. I remember talking to someone who said somebody had pulled wire loose and the county had to call in somebody from Texas to come out here and reprogram the whole thing and get it back together. That cost them, I think, $2,000 or $3,000. But, see, that wasn't an accident. That was intentionally done, costing taxpayers. I intend to watch the jail better. There are ways to better supervise people.

Do you have any examples?
I would have to wait and see what's going on to give any examples, but I've been out here in the business world and I know I can do it. And there are other ways to save money. If I get in, one of the first things I plan to do is take inventory and see what the condition is of the jail and the penal farm, then I'll sit down with the supervisors and go over it with them, telling them what I need, and once we get it fixed, then we'll maintain safety and get experienced people in there to do the job right. That way, we won't have any mishaps going on.

You're working under the assumption that supervisors are going to approve your checklist then?
Once they know the situation, once I explain it to them, they'll have to understand.

That's not what the current sheriff says.
Maybe he's not talking with the supervisors enough. Maybe he's not communicating.

I'm not sure about that. I've seen them shout pretty loud at each other. Sounds like communication to me.
That depends on what kind of relationship you have with them, and I think I'll have a better relationship than him.

What are some of the other methods you'll use to bring down crime in the county. What will you do differently?
I'll have patrols all over the county, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I'll be working everybody the maximum amount of time, and I'll use the reserve forces as much as I can, maybe get them to come in over the weekend. Also, I would set up roadblocks all over the county, not just in the black neighborhoods, but in the white neighborhoods, too.

Are you saying the sheriff sets up roadblocks mainly in one neighborhood or another?
I'm just saying that they need to be everywhere. That's a problem that people are telling me. We need attention everywhere, not just in some spots. I want my patrol people to know every sinkhole in the county. There should be no limit to the jurisdiction.

Your plan seems to rely on thin manpower and high fuel costs.
The thing about it is the people of this county are already paying for high priced tags and high price taxes on their property, but where's the money going? You have Terry, Edwards, Utica, Bolton, Raymond and Clinton. All these places have a police force, but if you can just have a deputy patrolling around the area you won't have to be running that long distance between headquarters and the patrol area.

The Sheriff's office and the Jackson Mayor's office seem to have a strained relationship. What will you do to better the situation?
I'll sit down with the mayor, tell him the situation and talk to the chief of police and I'll work with them, and have good communication.

That's it? It's that simple?
It's that simple.

JFP Reporters Brian Johnson and Adam Lynch interviewed the candidates in the 2007 election for the Hinds County Sheriff's Office-- current Sheriff Malolm McMillin, Tyrone Lewis, Lester Williams and Henry Grigsby--for their story, "A New Sheriff In Town?" (July 3, 2007). The transcripts of these interviews are available at jacksonfreepress.com

Previous Comments


Corrections made.


Don't forget about this one, L.W.: They don't get no patrol He must have skipped school during the lesson about double negatives.

Lady Havoc

Do NOT correct grammar in transcripts! L.W., once you make the changes, please delete your posts under them listing the changes so those don't disrupt the comment threads. Thanks!


Sorry. I didn't realize.

Lady Havoc

Already know that one, Donna, since a transcript is whatever comes out of the person's mouth. When I was in college, I had to interview my grandfather and type a transcript. I felt like I was writing Huckleberry Finn. :-)


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