Sheriff Garry Welford George County Sheriff’s Office Mississippi End of Watch: Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Photograph: Sheriff Garry Welford Patch image: George County Sheriff's Office, Mississippi

Sheriff Garry Welford
George County Sheriff’s Office
Mississippi

End of Watch: Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Biographical Info
Age: Not available
Tour of Duty: 37 years
Badge Number: Not available

Incident Details
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Date of Incident: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Weapon Used: Automobile
Suspect Info: Apprehended

Sheriff Garry Welford was struck and killed by the driver of a vehicle being pursued by deputies.
At approximately 2:45 pm deputies from the George County Sheriff’s Office were pursuing a pick-up truck that had failed to stop for them. The driver of the vehicle was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear for sentencing on a narcotics charge.
Sheriff Welford was laying spike strips down on Bexley Road South during to aid the pursuit when he was stuck by the suspect’s vehicle. He was airlifted to the University of South Alabama Medical Center where he died from his injuries.
The driver and a passenger in the vehicle were taken into custody the next day and charged in connection with the death of Sheriff Welford.
Sheriff Welford was a U.S. Navy veteran and had served as the sheriff of George County for seven years. Prior to being elected he had served for 30 years with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
He is survived by his wife, three children, and seven grandchildren.

Agency Contact Information
George County Sheriff’s Office
355 Cox Street Ste B
Lucedale, MS 39452
Phone: (601) 947-4811
Please contact the George County Sheriff’s Office for funeral arrangements or for survivor benefit fund information.

GEORGE COUNTY — The community was stunned Wednesday by the death of Sheriff Garry Welford, a popular two-term sheriff who had told friends he planned to retire after more than three decades in law enforcement.

Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber was acquainted with Welford through their participation in the Mississippi Sheriff’s Association.

“It could be any one of us,” Garber said. “I really feel for his family.”

Lucedale Mayor Doug Lee said he had known Welford for at least 28 years.

“Everyone’s just in real bad shape right now, just torn up,” Lee said. “He was a real well-liked person. He was a strong part of the community.”

Lee had met with Welford the previous night at the city’s board of aldermen meeting Tuesday.

“It’s just a senseless, shocking situation,” he said. “It makes no sense.”

City Alderman Jesse Underwood and Alderman-at-Large Louis Valentine said they knew Welford for about 40 years.

“We are all shocked by it,” Valentine said. “He was a fine person and a fine law enforcement officer. He had a good heart, and had George County and Lucedale’s well being at heart.”

“I’ve known him since at least 1968 — we both went into the Navy around then, the same time,” Underwood said.

“He had retired as a game warden, and this was his second term as sheriff. He had told me he wasn’t going to run again. His daddy had worked for the George County Sheriff’s Department many years ago, as a deputy.”

George County prosecuting attorney Mark Maples said he recently spent time talking to Welford about his plans to retire at the end of his term.

Maples said Welford told him he was looking forward to spending more time with his family.

“He’s a great man,” Maples said. “He’s upgraded our Sheriff’s Department. He brought up the morale of the men. He was a respected lawman and he formed a good, working sheriff’s department. He will be missed tremendously.”

Welford, also known for the Christmas trees he and his wife grew, was a longtime conservation officer for the state Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks before he was first elected sheriff in 2003.

After winning his second election in 2007, Welford told the Sun Herald he credited his success to making promises he could keep.

“I have done what I told the people that I would do,” Welford said. Welford, a graduate of George County High, ran for re-election on a platform based on accomplishments in his first term: more than 1,471 drug suspects arrested, 47 meth labs dismantled and more than 800 marijuana plants destroyed in the county’s largest-ever indoor marijuana cultivation bust.

The county’s seven murders during his first term resulted in arrests.

In his first term, Welford repeatedly asked county supervisors for money to hire more deputies. He also pushed for pay increases to curb the department’s high turnover rate.

In the start of his second term in 2008, Welford publicly opposed a plan to build an additional pumping station to flush out the proposed Richton Salt Dome with water from the Pascagoula River, which he had spent countless hours patrolling as a conservation officer.

This is believed to be the first death of a George County officer in the line of duty since former Sheriff J.E. Nelson was killed by gunfire on Dec. 20, 1948.

Welford’s survivors include his wife, three children and seven grandchildren.

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/07/21/2348774/community-stunned-by-welfords.html#ixzz0uRnU1lT6

Sheriff Welford remembered for restoring public trust

Y, MS (WLOX) – On Wednesday, George County lost a sheriff and a family lost a husband, a father, and a grandfather.

Garry Welford spent 30 years as a conservation officer for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. But in 2004, Welford decided to run for sheriff because, he said, he wanted to restore public trust.

A previous sheriff had resigned in midst of scandal and later pleaded guilty to perjury. Garry Welford promised residents he was the man who would wipe the tarnish off the badge.

As he took the oath of office, Sheriff Welford let George County’s drug dealers know he was coming after them.

"It effects the safety of our citizens," Welford said. "They’re not safe at home if people are having to steal and rob to support their drug habit."

Sheriff Welford made good on that promise over the years. WLOX went along for several raids including one where deputies helped round up 33 drug suspects.

Welford explained, "My philosophy is if you don’t have a market for drugs then you couldn’t sell drugs."

Sheriff Welford showed just as much commitment in overseeing the county jail. In 2006, the George County Regional Correctional Facility was recognized by the American Correctional Association for reaching a level of excellence. Consultants credited the sheriff for a big part of the jail’s success.

Consultant Pat Jones said at the time, "The sheriff, the warden and his staff want to do things the right way."

Sheriff Welford said in a WLOX interview that good leadership is key to being a good sheriff.

"I’m going to try to provide them with the type of leadership that will encourage them to be professionals. And if they’re professionals then the citizens in the county will feel good about us and that’s my goal."

http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?S=12850465

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