Patrolman gains responsibility

By Staff
COUNTY PATROLMAN Harold Null, a Lauderdale County patrolman who covers District 3, plays with a stray dog he found Thursday near a county dumpster off Highway 45 South. Null has several responsibilities that include inspecting roads, enforcing county ordinances regulating dump sites and helping out with animal control. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Chris Allen Baker / staff writer
March 8, 2002
Supervisor Craig Hitt has assigned new duties to the county patrolman who covers District 3.
This week, Harold Null began helping out with animal control driving a truck with a cage in back, checking "green boxes" for strays and answering complaint calls.
Lauderdale County is one of a handful of Mississippi counties that employs county patrolmen. Sheriff Billy Sollie and the board of supervisors have clashed over the position during several years of budget hearings.
Sollie's objection was that county patrolmen did not meet the definition of "law enforcement officer," but out-earned deputies with more demanding jobs.
Supervisors argued that patrolmen have other responsibilities and ultimately voted not to make changes to the system.
Each supervisor appoints a full-time country patrolman for his district. Patrolmen fall under the day-to-day supervision of County Administrator Rex Hiatt.
Their duties include inspecting roads, enforcing county ordinances regulating dump sites, directing traffic at schools, escorting funeral processions, helping emergency personnel during heavy weather and working with logging companies to minimize damage to county roads from the heavy trucks.
Null's law enforcement experience includes 20 years with the Meridian Police Department and four years as a Newton County deputy. He has been county patrolman for District 3 for seven years.
The Meridian Star rode the roads with Null on Thursday. Here's a look at his work day.
7 a.m. School duty.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Patrol county dumpsters, escort funerals and check for stray animals.
At one of Null's dumpster checkpoints on North Lakeland Drive, he describes an animal control issue he regularly observes.
Heading up to Highway 19 North near Midway Mart, Null checks another dumpster where he encounters a man illegally dumping tree limbs. Null gives a friendly warning. Another man tries to dump wood at the site, resulting in a friendly exchange with Null.
Null checks 11 dumpster sites as he patrols 285 square miles of District 3.
2 p.m. Return to schools. Null patrols through the campus of West Lauderdale High School, making sure teen drivers are obeying traffic laws.
3 p.m. and beyond Funeral escorts, special events, road patrol.
Watching logging trucks is also part of his job.
Providing an additional law enforcement presence in county neighborhoods is another responsibility Null enjoys.