[UPDATE] Lanier Sheriff's Office Scaled Back - SLIDE SHOW

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

[UPDATE]

Lanier County, Georgia - June 6, 2011

In a county of just 8,423 people, politics and personalities can be the name of the game.

And there's no covering-up the battle between commissioners and Lanier County Sheriff Nick Norton.

"Politics and crime enforcement have no business together," says resident Brad Jones.

47-year-old Norton says commissioners have been trying to control him since he took office in 2005.

"There's a very select few of very powerful people, who think they're powerful, that are going to have what they want, when they want it," says Norton.

For the next month, Norton says he's forced to furlough his 24 employees and cease all investigations.

A temporary shutdown of the Sheriff's office made for compelling reading in the local paper. Yet despite going over the budget, Norton says he hasn't broken any laws, and that puts the commissioners in a difficult position.

County commissioners accuse Norton of breaking Georgia law by exceeding his budget by more than $400,000. For fiscal year 2010, the Sheriff's Office was allotted $1,032,380 but ended up spending $1,462,017, according to a mandamus from Tim Tanner, attorney to the Lanier County Board of Commissioners.

They say Norton drastically goes over his budget every year.

"These are figures the tax brace of Lanier County cannot sustain," says Tanner. "And all we're asking him to do is to stay within his budget. The issue is not whether Sheriff Norton is a good sheriff or a bad sheriff."

When WCTV asked Norton whether there's a target on his back, he replied, "To remove me from office? Absolutely."

The Lanier County Sheriff's Office will be open from noon to 8 p.m. through the end of June.

Two deputies will be working and all calls will be re-routed to the 911 center.

When a new budget takes effect July 1, the Lanier County Sheriff's Office will likely resume normal operations.

For the next fiscal year, Norton has requested $1,716,209.11 from Lanier County, explained Tanner.

Commissioners will vote on it later this month.

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[UPDATE] Lanier County, Georgia - June 6, 2011

Lanier County budget battles have forced its local sheriff's office to almost shutdown.

Join us tonight on Eyewitness News for more.

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Lanier County, Georgia - June 3, 2011

The Lanier County Sheriff's Office says budget constraints by county commissioners will bring down operations, says Sheriff Nick Norton.

Deputies say all of the office's employees will be furloughed with just two deputies on duty everyday from noon to 8 p.m.

They say investigators will only respond to what they consider "life-threatening" emergencies.

All calls will be picked up by an answering machine and re-routed to the 911 center.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by TAXPAYER Location: LANIER COUNTY on Jun 12, 2011 at 04:16 PM
    I DON'T THINK YOU REALIZE THIS BUT WE HAVE SOME TEACHERS AT LANIER COUNTY SCHOOLS MAKING $80,000 PLUS AND THEY ARE CONSTANTLY CRYING FOR MORE MONEY. WE HAVE BOARD OF EDUCATION POLICE TG AND HE MAKES $40,000 PLUS AND A TAKE HOME CAR TO RESPOND TO CALLS AT THE SCHOOLS THAT HE DOESN'T EVEN GO TO. THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IS WHERE WE LOST ALOT OF OUR MONEY. IF YOU OWN PROPERTY IN THIS COUNTY YOU WILL SEE THAT THE SCHOOLS PROPERTY TAXES ARE WAY MORE THAN YOUR COUNTY TAX. CUT SOME OF THE SCHOOL BUDGET AND THOSE HIGH PRICED TEACHERS WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS LOWNDES COUNTY WHERE YOU HAVE 75,000 PLUS TAX PAYERS. COMEON GIVE ME A BREAK....
  • by Hey Nick I mean Ann Location: Courthouse on Jun 11, 2011 at 08:28 PM
    Where did you say those tapes were. I would like to see them because you solicited me and my wife and the fellow behind us. Now where can I get my 100 bucks, $50 for me and $50 for my wife.
  • by Hey Miss Ann on Jun 10, 2011 at 10:12 AM
    The Commissioners did what the Judge would not. They stopped the Norton fellow. Who does Norton answer to now? And by the way where can I get my $50 bucks because I voted for Watson.
  • by Ann Location: Lakeland on Jun 10, 2011 at 08:44 AM
    Again, you need to check your facts. It is more and more obvious that LL pays most of you to write these comments. As to the Sheriff soliciting outside the polling place, I guess you didn't bother to read the ethics report and see that he Sheriff had the mandated security cameras on all sides recording for the entire day. The Sheriff's every move was recorded as well as all of the Lee's SUV taxi service as it pulled up with folks to cast a vote for indicted Watson and Alex. A free ride and fifty bucks to boot. Check your facts folks. These tapes are a part of record in Atlanta. Mullis being non-existent - as mandated by law - and the Lee's illegal activity are all on tape. By the way, the Court has thrown out the suit the Commissioners filed against the Sheriff.
  • by N Location: Nowhere on Jun 9, 2011 at 03:29 PM
    It doesnt matter if you gave that lil sheriff a 5 million dollar budget, he would want more. He is soooo jealous of people that have worked hard to have the things they have. All he talks about is the Lee's.blah. blah. blah. What about the other commissioners on the board? Didnt they have to vote on the budget? Why doesnt he call any of them out by name? He doesnt want to live by the law that he is set forth to maintain. It never pertains to him!
  • by Oh Please Location: woods on Jun 9, 2011 at 03:24 PM
    The sheriff should have to maintain a budget like everyone else.But he doesnt want to. He had rather act like a big dog and exploit his position. He uses his badge to try to take care of his vendetas that are just due to jealousy. He is taking advantage of the entire county...cant you peope see!
  • by Are U Serious Location: Lakeland on Jun 9, 2011 at 12:53 PM
    I haven't read all the comments, but I am shocked that no one seems to focus on the fact that the Sheriff's Department has NOT followed a budget since Nick Norton was put into office. Forget about the political part a moment and look at the business part.....IT'S RIDICULOUS! Everyone and every business (except the United States Government) has to follow a budget. Instead of shutting the place down you make what you have work. In education the budget was cut,but we still have school and most of our teachers buy some of their own supplies. At DFCS the budget was cut, but they are still on call 24/7. If anyone is being "political" it is the Sheriff. He made sure it was all over TV and in the newspaper. He never even had the budget cut and he is still whining. I really don't understand why this is so difficult for everyone to understand. It is COMMON SENSE. You have a job and you have a budget. Do your job, follow your budget or quit and let us find someone who will.
  • by grewupthere Location: outside looking in on Jun 9, 2011 at 10:20 AM
    Its not just Lanier county, Ask your self what the largest bugdets in the county are. That is where you will find the folks that want to run the county. BOE, County Commission, Sheriff's office and City Hall. I would bet one person or a small group of folks are tring to get or have someone on the inside. I grew up in Lanier County I it was like a lot of other counties. It was full of boot-leggers and drug dealers. And guess what, Before Nick if you fingered one of these people the word got back to them in a matter of minutes. Nick has taken more drugs off the streets than may ever know about. I am not like a lot of the people making comments in the little forum, I am not going to defend or condemn the funds being spend with out considering all of the issues. But I do know that it cost a lot more to provide the level of protection and maintain a department the way it should be. Do you know what Meth does to your kids? have ever been around kids that were hooked? Remember try it once and you are hooked, there is nothing worse than see a teenager or anyone for that matter that has not sleep for a week, peeling scabs off their arm and eating it because it has meth in it. Their are people out there that will get your kids hooked on it for a few bucks or dangerous sex. They will do anything to get it "ANYTHING". Be thankful you have a Sheriff that cares enough about you and you kids to put in more over time than any 5 of you reading this. You can overlook enough an run a department pennies, so how much do you want to spend? You may get what you pay for.
    • reply
      by tax payer on Jun 9, 2011 at 06:04 PM in reply to grewupthere
      one of the promblems we have is that we are not getting what we pay for! Nick is the son of a DRUNK and will never be anything else
  • by thinktank on Jun 8, 2011 at 04:37 PM
    I bet Lanier County will build their own jail or partner with Echols to build a mutual jail soon. These high fuel prices transporting prisoners back and forth to jail and court is eating their lunch. They have not and will not save money hauling criminals to nearby county jails and pay the daily fees for housing them in my opinion. These trips are 40 to 50 miles round trip multiplied by number of daily trips for incarceration and court appearances and it doesnt take long to see where a chunk of the money goes for fuel and manpower.Think outside the box.
    • reply
      by curious on Jun 9, 2011 at 06:59 AM in reply to thinktank
      Where would you build a jail for Echols and Lanier? Somebody would still have high fuel costs. I don't think fuel costs are the issue anyway.
      • reply
        by yep on Jun 9, 2011 at 01:36 PM in reply to curious
        Use the Patten detention center building or build the Tri County Jail with Atkinson Clinch and Lanier near the 911 center.
  • by Farmer Location: Lanier County on Jun 8, 2011 at 01:53 PM
    Clean out both offices and start over.
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