New Madison County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy makes drug enforcement a goal

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Madison County Sheriff's Office's new Chief Deputy, Kerry Phillips, is working hard on the job.

Sheriff Blake Dorning announced Phillips' promotion last week, several weeks after the departure of David Jernigan. Jernigan is now the Madison Police Chief.

To fill Jernigan's place in the sheriffs office, Phillips has worked his way up through the ranks. He joined the department 28 years ago as a deputy cadet.

Dorning said Phillips is responsible for all enforcement operations. His responsibilities include the Uniform Patrol, Criminal Investigation Division, Records and Communications Division, Administration/Finance, Special Operations Division, Pistol Permits, Office of Professional Standards & Ethics, and Office of Compliance & Accreditation.

"It's going well. I'm excited," Phillips told us after his first week on the job.

Since he has worked in every division, he feels confident in his biggest goals that tackle the county's most urgent problems.

"Training and additional staff," he said. "I'd like to get additional people assigned to our narcotics units."

Tyler Berryhill, Madison County Deputy Coroner, said two people died of overdose on Wednesday.

On average, he said a person dies every five days in Madison County.

Those numbers are what Phillips is talking about when he says Madison County faces drug issues. Since the department is on the front lines, he said he and the sheriff want to see more investigators in place.

"If we can save one life-- and I say save lives because it is saving lives when you take the major drug dealers off the streets," he remarked. "You've got heroin, fentanyl, that's definitely a dangerous drug when it's combined." He added, "It's a challenge but it's something we are willing to take on."

The sheriff's office wants to protect people from the drug habits that may not only be hard to kick but are also deadly.