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Cox appointed new Shelby County Jailer

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Replaces retiring Waits

By Lisa King

For the first time in two decades, the Shelby County Detention Center has a new face at the helm.

Darrell Cox, a former captain at the detention center, has been selected to take the reins upon the retirement of longtime jailer Bobby Waits.

Shelby County Judge-Executive Dan Ison said that Cox began his new position Sept. 1.

"He took over at midnight on the first, I swore him in," he said.

The ceremony, fittingly, took place at the detention center where Cox was accompanied by his wife, Carol, and daughters, Misty and Miranda.

Waits had less than a year and a half left in his term, nixing the need for a special election to put a new jailer in office leaving Ison the responsibility to appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Wait's term, which ends in December 2018.

At Tuesday night's meeting of the Shelby County Fiscal Court, Cox appeared before magistrates, who welcomed him to the position, and said farewell to Waits.

Cox acknowledged that Waits has shaped the detention center into what the facility is today, taking it from a hundred year-old building housing less than 50 inmates to a state of the art 316-bed detention center.

"I've got some big shoes to fill," he told magistrates.

"I intend to fulfill this position with honesty and integrity and respect on focusing on what is best for the detention center of Shelby County," he said.

"I hope to continue in the way of the one who came before me, with the great work that Bobby has done."

Cox, a native Shelby countian who lives in Bagdad, said he applied for the position of jailer at the urging of other detention center employees.

"My deputies wanted me to try for this," he said. "I’m going to give it my best shot."

Cox, who has been with the detention center for 11 years, was previously in the construction businesses.

"I've done a lot of building and construction, I've worked in factories," he said. "I've done farming the majority of my life. I've always farmed in Shelby County. I was raised on a dairy farm, and we raised tobacco and corn."

Then he had an experience that turned him completely around, he said.

"It was odd the way it happened," he said. "I had always sort of been interested in it [law enforcement and corrections], and I was called to jury duty. That inspired me, and I said, 'I'm going to try this.'"

He applied for deputy jailer, and has been at the detention center ever since, rising to the rank of captain.

He said he does not have many specific plans yet for his time as jailer.

"It's a little bit early to say, but there are a lot of things I've got to work on. The biggest thing is the pay," he said. "We've got to get the pay up, because it's hard to keep deputies on our pay scale."

Waits told the court that he was pleased that Cox was selected.

"Darrell's worked his way through the ranks, and he's very deserving of it, and I think he will go an awesome job," he said. "I think it's a great honor for him and well deserved."