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Headland Delays Decision On Joint Communications Center - Who Will Die Before They Will Do Something

Rickey Stokes

Viewed: 2076

Posted by: RStokes
[email protected]
Date: Aug 06 2019 11:19 PM

HEADLAND - ABBEVILLE - HENRY COUNTY:    On July 19, 2019 members of the Headland City Council, Abbeville Mayor Billy Helms,. Headland Police Chief Mark Jones, and a committee charged with research met together.

The purpose of the research was to discuss a joint communications center for Headland - Abbeville ad Henry County.

There was some good discussion but the Headland City Council kicked the can down the road and made no decision.


First I want to say I have respect for Headland Police Chief Mark Jones, Henry County Sheriff Will Maddox and Abbeville Police Chief Noel Vanlandingham. And there are some comments of which I am going to make that more than likely they will get mad at me but they will just have to be mad.

1. Headland does not like Abbeville or the northern end of Henry County.

2. Abbeville does not like Headland or the southern end of Henry County.

3. Henry County, well it is the county seat. And Henry County does not sit in Headland or Abbeville, it is just the opposite. Headland and Abbeville sit in Henry County.

4. I like Headland Police Chief Mark Jones. He is a good police chief but a control freak. He does not work well with other agencies. He and Sheriff Will Maddox have never really gotten along. He did not support Sheriff Will Maddox in the re-election bid.

However in the past Sheriff election he supported a joint communications center until his man lost and Sheriff Will Maddox was re-elected.

5. I like Sheriff Will Maddox. Think that he is a very honest person. However he is to relaxed on members of his department and does not run it with the strong discipline that he should. He is slow to change and improved technologies. He allows other people in power to run over him when he needs to realize that as Sheriff, he is the CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER for Henry County and needs to slam that foot down or up some rear ends and make them realize that. And that includes District Attorney Pat Jones.

6. I like Abbeville Police Chief Noel Vanlandingham. On two occasions I fought for Noel Vanlandingham to be Abbeville Police Chief. However since being Chief I retract that. Vanlandingham is probably one of the best tactical people you can find. But I honestly have come to realize he is not the Chief material needed to manage the department.


Abbeville and Headland Police operate on a commercial system through SCI in Dothan. The Sheriff Department operates  on another system not compatible with the UHF Digital system in operation in Headland and Abbeville.

Headland Fire operates on a UHF Digital system under a commercial system then same as the Police. But all other 16 fire and other two EMS services operate on a UHF Analog system.

Headland Fire does not have the radio to talk to Abbeville Fire or Rescue or Haleburg Rescue. That poses issues.

The radio system of which Headland Police and Abbeville Police operate on will not operate all over Henry County. While I have not tried it, I am told the system that Henry County Sheriff Department operates on will work all across Henry County.

Understand what works in Headland might not work at the lake area. And that causes problems in the communications.

All of this can be solved when someone gets in control for the common goal and good of all of the citizens of Henry County and guests of that county.


Abbeville Police Chief Noel Vanlandingham got mad at Henry County Sheriff Will Maddox. Over exactly what, I do not think either one of them really knows. 

Get these Sheriff's In Order:  Sheriff Welcher who died in office; Sheriff Lawton Ed Armstrong who served 12 or 16 years; Sheriff Will Maddox who has completed 8 years and in his first of four years to make 12 years as Sheriff.

Abbeville Police dispatched Henry County Sheriff Department since Sheriff Welcher was Sheriff, through Lawton Ed Armstrong's tenure as Sheriff of 12 or 16 years and into the first 8 years of Sheriff Will Maddox.

Then the peeing contest between Noel Vanlandingham and Sheriff Maddox started. As a result Abbeville Police stopped dispatching for the Sheriff Department and forced Sheriff Maddox to put in a dispatch at the Henry County Jail.

So today, Henry County has more dispatchers then law enforcement officers. And they operate on 5 different radios and systems.

That is in no way healthy for the citizens of Headland, Henry County or Abbeville. And it could be anyone of those in the meeting who need the emergency services.


Some good questions and some good and some sorry answers given. The "loose control" "what we have works good", well ok. But you have had and will in the future have officers injured or killed because of your HEADLAND MAYOR, HEADLAND POLICE CHIEF, HEADLAND TOWN COUNCIL, HENRY COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN, HENRY COUNTY SHERIFF, HENRY COUNTY COMMISSION, AND ABBEVILLE MAYOR, ABBEVILLE POLICE CHIEF, AND ABBEVILLE CITY COUNCL lack of action.

The Sheriff has problems converting over to the same system as Abbeville and Headland because their radios do not cover the entire county.

But with the number of officers employed in all of Henry County, if this problem does not get fixed. you gentlemen will have blood on your hands. And no one can say for sure the Headland Police Officer killed, Dexter Hammond, was given all of the information before he went into the call and was killed.

Because at the time Abbeville and Henry County Sheriff operated together. After the shooting the information went from officers to Abbeville to Headland and then the officer.

Not saying that Dexter did or did not know all of the information, but if they operated on one system, good chance he would have known.

But Dexter Hammond was shot and killed. 


As I said earlier all you are getting is excuses. And I said Headland Police Chief Mark Jones is a control freak ( not calling him a freak - but you know what I am saying. ) Because there is a lack of working together, he is not trusted by other agencies.

But Headland Police Department is a turn key operation ready for to handle a central dispatch. So it makes sense to place it there. Make someone over the communications that is under the 911 Board and not under the direct command of Mark Jones. But the central dispatch is handled in Headland.

Sheriff Maddox get over the non trust issue of Mark Jones, but Mark do not continue paths that cause that. Work with the Sheriff Department and embrace a partnership. While I could explain ways you are not, I am just saying START.

In 60 days or less the single center could be up and working. Just takes some getting out of the box and working together. And throwing those egos away.

Four men are responsible for a law enforcement officer, fireman or EMS worker getting killed or injured if communications is the issue in Henry County:

1. Headland Mayor Ray Marler because he is the TOP, over the Headland Police Chief.

2. Abbeville Mayor Billy Helms because he is the TOP, over the Abbeville Police Chief.

3, Henry County Commission Chairman David Money controls the money, but the Sheriff is elected. The commission could force the issue through not funding the Sheriff on some things, but the Sheriff is elected.

But the two Mayors have direct control over the Police Chief.

LIVES DEPENDS ON THIS. The law enforcement officer, EMS and fire. And you gentleman, if communications is the failure that cost the officers or citizens their lives, YOU ARE responsible. 

It is all about saving lives.


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