DeSoto sheriff wants money for fair security

By Chip Washington - bio | email

HERNANDO, MS (WMC-TV) - DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco says an attorney general's opinion supports his claim that Mid-South Fair organizers owe his office $27,000 for overtime for deputies providing security.

Last year, the Mid-South Fair shifted a few miles south, leaving Memphis and setting up camp at the DeSoto Civic Center. Primary security was provided by the Southaven Police Department with an assist from the DeSoto County Sheriff's Department.

In the end, the cost to the Sheriff's Department was nearly $27,000 dollars.  Because deputies were not paid, Sheriff Bill Rasco sought his own legal opinion.

"The way I read it, if we provide security for an event like, that we can be reimbursed for overtime fees," he said.   

Rasco said Attorney General Jim Hood's opinion says "the sheriff is not a security guard company and is not required to provide security to events free of charge."

The opinion goes on to say the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors may adopt regulations to require reimbursement. Rasco believes the county will back his argument.

"They don't tell me how I am to spend my money, so if I decide not to spend overtime money to provide security, I don't think they would go against me," he said.

As for the $27,000 in overtime costs, Rasco said his office had to pay officers out of its budget.  Rasco said if he is asked to provide fair security again this year, he will not unless he is paid for last year's costs.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.  The AP contributed to this story.