Town loans top cop to new Lexington County sheriff

07/18/2014 8:44 PM

07/18/2014 8:45 PM

Lexington police are loaning their second-in-command to help the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department deal with the loss of its top command staff.

Assistant town police chief Jay Koon will join the management team of new Sheriff Lewis McCarty temporarily starting Aug. 1.

McCarty confirmed the appointment but declined to say more “in accordance with his standard practice,” sheriff’s spokesman Maj. John Allard said Friday.

Koon will be part of a group replacing four top aides to suspended Sheriff James Metts that McCarty dismissed immediately after his appointment in mid-June.

The new role for Koon is expected to last a few months, town officials said.

Town leaders signed off on it as a favor to a sheriff’s department coping with Metts’ indictment on federal charges of accepting bribes and misconduct in office.

“It’s giving them a hand to help get things straightened out,” Mayor Steve MacDougall said. “We are talent-deep – it’s a great compliment.”

Koon said the request to assist McCarty came “out of the blue” shortly after the new sheriff took charge.

“Everybody saw the value in it,” Koon said “I’ll go over and help them out any way I can.”

Koon, 42, has been with town police all his 20 years in law enforcement, the last eight as assistant chief of the 50-member force.

Town police and deputies have a tight friendship since their headquarters are a little more than a mile apart and they often work together on many matters.

Koon is taking an indefinite leave of absence from his current role and will return to it, town administrator Britt Poole said.

“They need help in the transition,” Poole said. “It’s not an ordinary situation.”

Koon fills one of the last vacancies in McCarty’s team in a role not revealed publicly.

The shake-up came after the indictment alleged “preferential treatment” under Metts occurred so that four illegal immigrants detained at the county jail in 2011 were released to return to work instead of facing deportation.

Some of the releases occurred through contact with unidentified “command staff” and officers, the indictment alleges.

The length of McCarty’s stay as sheriff is uncertain.

Metts will return if found not guilty of the charges. If he is convicted, he is removed from office, and an election will be held to settle on a successor.

McCarty, a former top aide to Metts, has said he is filling in and will not run for the post should it become available.

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