Artist Bo Bartlett partners with sheriff’s office to create unique art in jails program
Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins says she has more work to do, and recently confirmed she will be running for the office again in 2020.
“This is my full time job and my full time passion,” Tompkins said about her decision to run for re-election.
The first-term, first female Muscogee sheriff said her team has set the foundation for work still yet to be done.
Tompkins took office in January 2017 after beating incumbent John Darrr in a run-off election.
Tompkins said some of her accomplishments since taking office include long-needed repairs of the kitchen floor at Muscogee County Jail, securing funding for a new generator for the jail, revamping hiring practices to align with state and industry standards and pay reform for her deputies.
Tompkins noted that she returned $551,000 back to the city at the end of her first year, whereas her predecessor had racked up a budget deficit of $13 million over eight years.
“And at the end of 2018 we provided bonuses to our officers, which had never been done before,” Tompkins said.
Her proudest moments include when her office was able to maintain court operations despite an onslaught of floods at the government center, as well as when her administration conducted the second largest ever drug seizure in Muscogee County: 33.6 pounds of methamphetamine and 14.7 pounds of heroin., she said. She also said she is proud of a $250,000 federal non-matching grant for a records management program for her deputies.
Some of her biggest concerns remain the large number of vacant positions and an overcrowded jail. She said the office has continued to struggle with attracting qualified applicants.
“People want to police in Mayberry but it’s just not reality anymore,” Tompkins said. “And it’s not just about money. Money is a piece of the pie but it’s not the whole pie.”
Tompkins said people want to have the ability to advance in their careers.
“The last 10 or so I interviewed said they realized there was nowhere to go in their current jobs,” she said. “We need to look at how we can create those opportunities.”
She has also worked to help eliminate crowding in the county jail by releasing those who’ve committed low-level city ordinance violations or have low-level misdemeanor charges out on their own recognizance, meaning without bail.
She said continuing to strengthen relationships with city officials will remain a top priority.
“Something that has been huge for me and something I ran (my campaign) on is establishing a good working relationship with the city manager, the mayor and the city council,” she said. “I think myself and my team have been very successful and have established credibility that we will be good stewards of taxpayer money.”
She said she is also always looking for opportunities to get input from the community on what they would like to see from the sheriff’s office.
“I’ve lived long enough to know that I don’t have all the answers, and I am willing to listen to what others think we could do better,” Tompkins said.
Muscogee County Marshal Greg Countryman announced April 2 that he too will be running for the seat next year.