Pike County Sheriff James Brumfield wouldn’t normally give advice to criminals, but he offered some pearls of wisdom when it comes to investigator Javonda Shanks.
“Don’t get her on your bad side and don’t get her investigating you, because she’s not gonna stop,” Brumfield said in introducing Shanks as she received the Deputy of the Year Award from the McComb Exchange Club on Thursday.
Brumfield said Shanks is a tenacious law enforcement officer whose wits and determination have served her well.
She worked with the previous sheriff’s administration, interviewed for the department when Brumfield took over in January and was offered a job in investigations.
“I was going to do my very best and hire the best that I possibly could, and Javonda Shanks is one of those people,”Brumfield said. “You’ve got a great staff at the sheriff’s department.”
“First I just want to give thanks to God because without Him I wouldn’t be standing here,” Shanks said. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity I’ve been afforded and I look forward to serving you all.”
A New Orleans native and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Shanks recently received her master’s degree in criminal justice from Colorado State University and holds a bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Louisiana University.
She has worked in law enforcement for 15 years, including with the Magnolia Police Department before joining the sheriff’s office in 2016. Shanks has worked as a school resource officer for North Pike and South Pike school districts.
“I can promise you she’s doing a great job,” Brumfield said.
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Giving a general update on the sheriff’s department, Brumfield said he is “fortunate” to have a full staff.
The department has four deputies per shift and 25 road deputies.
While the Southwest Mississippi Narcotics Enforcement Unit has disbanded, Chief of Investigations Robbie Roberts, one of several sheriff’s officials on hand, said the department works closely with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics on drug cases.
“We have a great relationship with the MBN,” he said. “We work right alongside them. We’ haven’t missed a beat.”
Chief Deputy Brad Bellipanni said half of the department’s deputies have received crisis intervention team training, qualifying them to respond to cases in which someone is having a mental health crisis.
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Turning to the department’s handling of COVID-19, Brumfield said so far the proudest moment of his seven-month tenure as sheriff has been preventing an outbreak of the virus at the county jail.
“We’re fortunate in what he started, we have not had one case of COVID in residents of the jail,” he said. “The jail has done an excellent job.”
However, the virus has taken its toll on the department in other tragic ways. Jail administrator Glenn Green died of the disease and Brumfield was emotional when the topic arose.
“The procedures that Capt. Green started when COVID first came out, we have no idea how many lives we saved,” Bellipanni said.
Exchange Club members also noted that Green was a past Deputy of the Year honoree.
The department recently hired Richard Bynum as its new jail administrator.
“The sheriff is pleasantly pleased with his actions,” Bellipanni said.
Brumfield noted that other personnel in the department have contracted the virus, but they are either on the mend or have recovered.
“They’re all doing good. Most of them are back to work,” he said.
Brumfield also addressed the wave of protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, with some calling to defund law enforcement agencies, the sheriff said officers hold a thin line between order and chaos and need the support of the community.
“Honor these people and care of these people,” he said. “Support these people. When you see them, stop them and thank them. It goes a long way. They are underpaid. They work too many hours.”
He said it takes a special person to work in law enforcement.
“You are called to your job, just like a preacher is to a church,” he said.