Quitman County Sheriff responds to citizen backlash - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Quitman County

Quitman County Sheriff responds to citizen backlash

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

QUITMAN COUNTY, GA (WTVM) -  According to some Quitman County residents, roles have been reversed in their community.

Instead of being protected by Sheriff's Deputies, they say they need protection from what they call an "out of control" department.

"The sheriff needs to go and when he goes, his pit bulls are going with him," said John Montieth.

Last week, tensions escalated into a small scale riot in downtown Georgetown.

Eight people were arrested after police say two deputies were attacked when making an arrest.

"We think that the governor needs to look at the situation immediately and call a state of emergency and move quickly to protect those citizens from the Sheriff's Department. Otherwise, you have an explosive, volatile situation that I'm afraid is going to turn tragic," said Joseph Wiley, a Columbus lawyer who is representing a group of residents.

Sheriff Steve Newton denies any wrong doing and says he is only doing what he promised taxpayers.

"When I came into office, I promised that I would put a stop to the parties and the drug sales and that's what I've been working diligently to do. The tactics of this criminal enterprise is to make every accusation they can make to try to discourage me from enforcing the laws. I absolutely refuse to do that. I'm going to enforce the laws and we're going to do it in an ethical and honest manner," Newton explained.

Other residents see what his office is trying to accomplish.

"If you're going to take away the drugs from the county, people are going to get upset because they've made a living off the drugs," said local pastor, Charlie Belflower.

"They were selling drugs on church grounds. Since we've had the new sheriff, we've gotten rid of all of that and we feel safer in our city," added Sherman Williams, another local pastor.

Sheriff Newton says he has called in the GBI to investigate the small scale riot.

He expects that investigation to wrap up in the next two weeks.

The cases made against seven adults after the riot are set to be heard by a Quitman County Grand Jury September 28th.

Residents sent a letter to Governor Perdue Friday, asking for his intervention.

They say they are also taking their concerns to the Quitman County Commission next week.

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