Pulaski Sheriff Eric Higgins delivered an emotional defense of his management of the department before a special Quorum Court meeting tonight.

He said he inherited equipment problems in the jail and has personnel shortages because of non-competitive pay levels.

He says the problems are not new but continuing and the county government has not responded.

He, under questioning, addressed reports of nonpayment of bills, including for body cameras.

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He said he was working with the county comptroller to “correct those issues.”

He conceded something employees had said: that they worked shifts of more than 12 hours without breaks. He said he was working to correct that

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”But our staffing level, it’s hurting.”

He insisted he hadn’t reduced patrol coverage.

He has some sympathy on the Quorum Court. But one JP encouraged him to work better with county officials. And she defended pay scales as the result of a comprehensive pay study. And she acknowledged he might face resistance as a Black man. “But you have to do your part.” A

Another JP, Lillie McMullen, suggested shortcomings were the county’s responsibility. And she implied Higgins was being judged more harshly because he is Black.

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The county comptroller detailed millions in costs necessary to upgrade the jail as the sheriff has said is necessary.