FAIRHOPE — Three Baldwin County officials who recently began new terms praised their staff and supporters and said they are looking forward to continued progress in the next four years.Baldwin …
FAIRHOPE — Three Baldwin County officials who recently began new terms praised their staff and supporters and said they are looking forward to continued progress in the next four years.
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack, Circuit Judge Scott Taylor and Coroner Brian Pierce were sworn into office in ceremonies during the last Baldwin County Commission meeting. All were re-elected in November.
Mack began his fifth term of office after first being elected in 2006.
He said the county and his office have grown in the last 16 years. When he first took office, the department has about 210 employees. Today, the number is about 380. He said the county's growth will continue to be a major challenge for law enforcement.
"As we always talk about in Baldwin County the growth that we continue to experience," Mack said, "I think we have a lot of opportunity to meet those needs."
Mack said drugs and an increase in violent crime continue to be a problem for law enforcement both in Baldwin and other areas of the region and country.
"The next four years, we're going to have an increased emphasis on the fentanyl and heroin type epidemics that we're seeing," Mack said. "Also, we know that violent crime is up a little bit in Baldwin County as well as in some of the surrounding counties. So, we hope to continue to build strong alliances with our neighbors to the east and west to continue to address those problems."
Mack said some of the increase in violent crime in Baldwin County is due to a growing population, but the rise in drug use also contributes to the change.
"Although I do think that there's some social issues and different problems," Mack said, "I think the drug epidemic absolutely fuels a lot of the increase in violent crime, not only by those committing the crime but also the victims of crimes that they become because of the people that are addicted to some of these drugs are doing more violent acts in order to obtain them."
Mack said that in the upcoming term, the county will have an expanded corrections center in Bay Minette. The $65 million facility will have a capacity of 649 inmates when it is completed in 2025, Mack said.
After being sworn in for a fifth term by retired Circuit Judge James Reid, Mack praised his family, staff members and other county officials for their support. He also thanked the police chiefs and officers from departments across Baldwin County who attended the ceremony.
"This is a cooperative effort we do in Baldwin County," Mack said. "Law enforcement is a team. It's not an 'I' it's a team and it's an honor to serve with so many of you who are here today, and we'll do the best that we can do over the next four years to continue to adapt to the needs of public safety in Baldwin County."
Taylor also thanked his family and staff members after being sworn in.
"I have folks all the time who ask me how do you do your job, and it's because of all those folks," Taylor said. "I'm blessed to have a wonderful group around me, our commissioners who I work with on a regular basis.
"It takes a whole lot of folks to make the court system function," the judge added.
Pierce said he and his staff will be working to continue to improve services in the coroner's office in the upcoming term.
He said the coroner's office provides an important service for both law enforcement and the families of people who have died in Baldwin County.
"Our mission statement is to accurately determine the cause and manner of death so that we may provide details for law enforcement that will bring closure to families, to establish and maintain cooperative professional relationships with all of our community partners, to assist the bereaved in the loss of the loved ones and to earn and hold the respect of the citizens that we are privileged and honored to serve," Pierce said.