Lanier County, June 8, 2011
On the streets of Lanier County, dueling between the sheriffs office and county commissioners is known almost everywhere.
"They should be ashamed of themselves," says Katrina Waychoff, who was helping her dad tend to his lawn on Highway 221. "They're not working for themselves, they're working for the people"
Lanier County Sheriff Nick Norton says irate residents are harassing the 911 Center.
"Angry because after hours that there's not a deputy there ready to respond to their call," says Roland Sutton, director of the Tri-County E-911 Center, which serves Lanier, Clinch and Atkinson Counties.
Budget battles have forced the sheriff's office to furlough all employees and operate from just noon to 8 p.m.
But call volume at the Tri-County 911 center isn't up.
"I think the public knows what's going on," says Sutton. "So therefore, the call volume has decreased."
Still, some residents say this is a disservice to the people of Lanier County.
"That people aren't going to respond except to life-threatening emergencies," says Waychoff. "Then, what's stopping them from doing stuff? What's stopping them from doing drugs, from robbing houses?
Waychoff's father, Stephen Jackson, agrees, "This is not what you expect from law enforcement. I live ten miles out of town. Then, if anything were to occur here on my property, I don't have a hope for them responding."
Through June, just two deputies and the sheriff will staff the Lanier County Sheriff's Office.
It will likely re-open with a larger staff in July.
Eyewitness News reporter Gabrielle Sarann is in Clinch County at the Tri-County Joint 911 Center finding out whether call volume is up now that the Lanier County Sheriff's Office is scaled back.
Stay with WCTV for details on the story.