Jason Boyd is out to unseat current Sumner County Sheriff Darren Chambers for sheriff in the most hotly contested political race in the county.
Boyd and Chambers are both running as Republicans and in the primary to be held Aug. 4, the winner will, in effect, be the elected sheriff since he will run uncontested in the later general election. There are no Democratic candidates.
Currently, Boyd serves as police chief in Peabody, a small town in Marion County located roughly 90 miles from where he lives in South Haven.
"As a current law enforcement officer and Sumner County business owner, and son of a sheriff (the late Kenny Boyd), I saw a desperate need for a correction to this Department," Boyd said in an email. "I learned countless things from my father, starting with the attributes and qualities of being a ‘Peoples Sheriff.’ He has given me a ‘road map’ dating back 30 years on the successful ability to lead."
Among the changes and improvements, Boyd said he would like to bring to the department are:
*Reduction in the budget
*Return the K-9 program
*Return of the D.A.R.E Program and youth-based opportunities
*Re-building of the Reserve program
*Re-instate Residency policy to bring back local jobs and increase service quality
*Ensure that Sumner County returns to a Community-based law enforcement agency
Boyd said he will lead "by faith, respect, honesty, and integrity." His own integrity has been questioned and Boyd’s name is not without controversy, which he has addressed during his campaign.
In 2015, while serving as police chief of South Haven, Boyd faced three felony counts for allegedly depositing a $2,650 donation to the police department into his own account and spending around $1,600 of it on non-police related items.
He was facing felony charges of theft, misuse of public funds and interference with law enforcement.
In January of 2016, following a preliminary hearing, Judge William R. Mott handed down a memorandum dismissing the complaint filed against Boyd.
"The complaint is dismissed entirely, for lack of probable cause on the charge brought," Mott wrote in his opinion.
There remain people in South Haven who still believe Boyd misused the funds. Amy Brown, who served as city clerk while Boyd was employed by the city of South Haven, said, "In my opinion there was a definite misuse of funds by Jason Boyd. The donated money never filtered through the city as it should have."
South Haven Mayor Kim Byers, who served as a city council member from 2016 to 2020 said she looked through financial records and minutes from old city council meetings where council members had asked for receipts that were not provided.
The police position was dissolved by the South Haven City Council in 2016 due to budgetary issues and Boyd being delinquent in certification training, Byers said.
"I can’t speak for other council members, but I voted for that because I felt how he carried out the donations during and after instilled mistrust in our public. And I felt like if it was a rookie mistake, someone with a good conscience would have just said ‘here’s the money back.’"
Boyd said in a phone interview, "All the money was accounted for. I had no need to account for a dime of that money because it was never public funds to begin with but I did so in a good faith effort."
A local businessman had left a $2,650 blank check to Boyd with the understanding that it would go toward South Haven police department purchases. Boyd allegedly filled in his name and deposited it in a farm account.
"That decision wasn’t made just by me," Boyd said. "That decision was made at that time, in that moment partially because the donor had concerns with how the city had spent their money previously."
Amy Brown, who served as city clerk in South Haven while Boyd was police chief there, said, "The city budget does indeed have a line item for the police department in the general fund. The money would not have been used for the fire department or for gravel for the roads as Jason told the donor."
Byers said, "Every donation our city has received historically has been received by the city clerk and deposited into the general fund and each donation has been used specifically for what the donor wished it to be used for."
Boyd said, "That wasn’t the history at South Haven and this gentleman knew that from making previous donations to the school and other places. He had his own set of issues and concerns. Those weren’t my concerns. Those were his."
Boyd has had other minor brushes with the law. In 2002, when he was 19, the Hutchinson municipal court did drop a DUI charge, but Boyd did plead builty to an open container charge.
"Those events you’re talking about were in my beginning years of college," Boyd said. "What I did back then, I paid the price for. It was nothing I tried to get out of or didn’t do."
The other incident occurred in September of 2018 during a custody dispute between Boyd and his ex-wife’s fiance’, Trey Matchett. The officer’s report stated there was an argument and Matchett said Jason started yelling and swearing in close proximity to his face."
Boyd said the interaction was more like a conversation. "I’ve seen worse interactions at a high school football game than what happened that day," he said.
Leadership at the core
Boyd has said he will lead a transparent sheriff’s office.
"Leadership is engraved in my core and I respect the oath and position "of the people," he said.
Boyd would like to restore public confidence and bring back principles and values to this sheriff’s office "which should be held at high standards," he said.
"As a result of my upbringing professionally and personally I have a unique set of skills in which I carry to this position unlike any other," Boyd said. "All of my experience at every level has had a great impact on my ability and preparedness as the next Sheriff."
Boyd credits his father with making him what he is today.
"Three things stick out always in his words," he said. "Center everything on faith; hard times make strong men; and circumstances make the man."