Marshand Crisler vividly remembers his last conversation with the late Sheriff Lee Vance.
“My wife and I were on our way to New Orleans the Friday before he passed and I reached out to him about a law enforcement matter,” Crisler said. “His spirit was bright but his voice was noticeably weak.”
Crisler says he received the call Tuesday night that Vance had passed but, even then, wasn’t aware that his name was being brought up as his replacement.
“Things have happened fast, he said. “I got a call shortly after the Sheriff’s death telling me that my name had come up, and I needed to be at the next Supervisors meeting.”
Crisler has now been interim Hinds County Sheriff for just over two weeks. With almost no grace period, he says he’s had to dive immediately into trying to help find solutions to curb crime in the county. When asked to rate his first few days in office, Crisler said that it has been a whirlwind.
“I hit the ground running,” he said. “I’ve already been on the scene of several shootings.”
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors named Crisler as Vance’s replacement back on August 16th. He’ll serve in that position until a special election is held on November 2nd. The Hinds County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) jurisdiction covers three cities and six municipalities. The three cities are Jackson, Clinton, and Byram. And the others are Raymond, Utica, Terry, Bolton, Edwards, and Learned. One of the first things Crisler says he wants to do is form a gun suppression unit and get the mayors and police chiefs in the county to sign on.
“We’re going to target dirty guns in and around Jackson. The equation is convict plus gun equals “dirty gun”. He said, “Every lawful citizen is protected by the 2nd Amendment. Convicts have lost their right when they become felons. We’re going to target that and thereby have a direct effect on violent crime in the City of Jackson.”
Crisler says he’s been in contact with both Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Jackson Police Chief James Davis and both are on the same page. Crisler says he’s only looking to augment what JPD is doing and assist where needed. Why? Because that’s protocol, he said.
“JPD is still the largest police force in Mississippi, even short-staffed. So, they’re already self-sufficient,” he said. “To me, it would be improper to come inside the city limits without having an agreement in place.”
Crisler says he’s not going to let the “interim” title deter him from trying to make lasting change.
“The interim title fell off for me the moment I put the uniform on,” he said. “The decisions I make now would be identical to the ones I would make if I was the permanent choice. We have a responsibility to do what the job calls for us to.”
As concerns turn toward the rise in Covid cases and Mississippi’s plodding vaccination numbers, Crisler says the health of his staff and the inmates is paramount. In late July, the Raymond Detention Center reported over 70 people had tested positive for Covid, 60 of those were detainees. Crisler says they have adopted an aggressive policy similar to the one adopted by the City of Jackson.
“A lot of people have balked at the fact that we are having employees pay for their own testing. But guess what? We’re not in a popularity contest,” he said. “This Delta variant is killing people.
Crisler said, upon entering the jail, everyone is tested and vaccinations are offered to those that want it. He says the jail is being sprayed down daily and anyone visiting inmates must be in full PPE. He also notes that he has a non-negotiable mask policy at the sheriff’s department.
“These protocols work. And, just like the law, we’re going to enforce them in a vigorous manner,” he said.
Crisler has announced that he will be a candidate for the office permanently in November. He will face five opponents, all of which have already announced their intentions to run.