When you think of the Sheriff's Department, you probably think of crime. But that's not all the Houston County Sheriff's Office deals with--the department works closely with the courthouse when it comes to civil suits. In fact, in the last year the division collected double what it has in previous years.
"A civil function is one of the major functions of any sheriff and this past year for plaintiffs of civil cases we have recovered right at 1.1 million dollars," said Sheriff Andy Hughes.
That number is far more than what it's been in previous years… but why is that number so high? We sat down with Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes to find out.
"One reason is the dollar value may be higher on some of these cases per case or we've seen an upswing in these types of cases because of the economy also. People just can't pay back the money they owe or they can't make their business work and someone has to sue them to recover for their losses," said Hughes.It's not an easy task; sometimes tracking down the person that owes money or items takes investigative work. "We're proud of the fact that people that have been wronged in cases that we can assist them in recovering their assets or recovering their cash or whatever the case may be. These are legitimate business people or common people that are not business people that enter into some type of business transaction with someone and they get wronged," said Hughes.
Sheriff Hughes says organization has been the key to success.
"When I was a deputy years ago we had to serve civil papers we had to serve subpoenas and we had to catch calls and catch the bad guys, so our civil division takes the civil work off of the patrol deputies so our patrol deputies can focus on actual patrol work," said Hughes.
He says keeping the two separate benefits both the department and the community--bringing restitution to those who were wronged. Those numbers are a new record for the Houston County Sheriff's Office.