It takes guts and character to assume a new office and immediately relinquish control of some of the office's powers.

Yet, the new Lanier County sheriff did just that with the county's poor jail facilities.

What Nick Norton found when he walked in and inspected the facility was a mess. Rather than keep inmates or the personnel under his command in what he referred to as "less than hospitable" conditions, the new sheriff closed the jail on his first day in office.

With Lanier County being responsible for about a dozen inmates, Norton turned to Sheriff Ashley Paulk in Lowndes County for help. The two sheriffs made arrangements to house the inmates at the Lowndes facility, which has the capacity and personnel, until Norton feels Lanier is ready to operate efficiently.

The easy thing for Norton would have been trying to maintain the status quo. But Lanier County's first new sheriff in 16 years campaigned on a promise to make positive changes, and he has already taken steps in the right direction. Reaching out to Lowndes County for help with an administrative problem fulfills a promise to rebuild working relationships with neighboring law enforcement agencies and surrounding counties.

Paulk also deserves credit for aiding Lanier County with the jail situation and a supply of hardware. Lowndes County is giving radios and other surplus equipment it no longer needs to the smaller sheriff's office. Having this level of cooperation between the two law enforcement agencies ensures a higher level of protection and security for residents of the two counties.

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