I wish to respond to Patty Smith’s Oct. 5 letter to the editor, “Seized money doesn’t go to salaries,” in which she responded to my previous comments in the paper about the recent excessive spending of confiscated drug money by the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.
Patty and I have been friends for years, and I know she also is a loyal supporter of Sheriff Donny Turner, evident by another letter to the editor that she wrote to you before the August run-off election saying she has known him for 28 years and “completely trusts” him. I also completely trusted him until I saw his true colors come out during this past sheriff’s election. In fact, I offered to write a letter supporting Sheriff Turner to the newspaper before the run-off election but he politely said it wasn’t necessary.
I appreciate Patty’s kind words about me but would like to clarify what she said about the confiscated drug money. I believe she misunderstood my remarks and would like to make my intent clear.
Ms. Smith said my argument was incorrect because the Official Code of Georgia says confiscated drug money cannot be used for the payment of salaries. She said that I was incorrect in saying this spending of the drug money will not cause a reduction in force.
Nowhere in my letter did I state that drug money would now be needed to pay salaries. As a 36-year veteran in law enforcement, I am extremely aware that drug money cannot be used for salaries or rewards to employees.
What I am saying is this: The Sheriff’s Office budget has been cut each year in the past several years in response to a need to trim costs in all county departments. To offset this, the sheriff has had $1.7 million to buy items allowable by the Official Code of Georgia that otherwise would have to be paid out of the county budget.
That simply means that because of this $1.7 million, he has not had to spend as much out of the county budget, leaving more of that county money (NOT drug money) to be spent on salaries. He can buy items such as inmate uniforms, pens, patrol cars and computers with the drug money so that he can operate with a smaller county budget.
However, since the run-off, it has been shared to me that he has purchased items excessively and is doing it purposefully because he is leaving the office after being defeated.
Patty, Sheriff Turner said himself in an Aug. 14 sheriff’s forum: “In the last three years, 1.7 million dollars has been spent on things that we need, which is cars, guns, bullet-proof vests, and things of that nature, that didn’t cost you a dime. You have never in your tax money bought me a gun in 20 years. We’ve bought every gun we’ve ever purchased — every deputy wears, shotguns, rifles, and everything else — out of this drug money we’ve been doing for 20 years. So we’re there to put that money in there and save you money. If I’m gone, you’re going to get 1.7 million dollars of your taxes raised in the next three years because we’ve got to keep buying these things that come up.”