Investigator: Jones County Sheriff’s Department participation in 2016 movie was illegal

Therese Apel

Screenshots from the movie "The Hollow" depicting JCSD personnel, vehicles, and equipment allegedly used illegally in the movie.
JCSD Chief Deputy Mitch Sumrall discussing accusations of wrongdoing uncovered in relation to a 2016 movie “The Hollow” at a JCSD Press Conference on Wednesday.

An internal investigation by the Jones County Sheriff’s Department found that the use of JCSD personnel, vehicles and equipment in a 2016 movie was illegal.

The Jones County Sheriff’s Department held a Press Conference on Wednesday to announce the results of the internal investigation.

The movie was called “The Hollow,” and was filmed in various locations in Mississippi. According to JCSD Chief Deputy Mitch Sumrall, Jones County Sheriff’s Department on-duty deputy and a member of the command staff, department vehicles, and equipment were used during the out-of-county filming of the movie without the knowledge or approval of the Jones County Board of Supervisors.

Multiple complaints over the depiction of law enforcement in the movie and the use of JCSD personnel, vehicles, and equipment led to an internal investigation.

“It was illegal to use county-owned property and a on-duty deputy and a member of the command staff in the production of this movie,” said Sumrall. “Our internal investigation turned up evidence of wrongdoing and JCSD personnel who were ordered to participate in the filming using their uniforms, equipment, and vehicles. In addition, a deputy was told not to mention participation in the filming or that deputy would be terminated from employment.”

The findings and evidence collected during the investigation have been turned over to investigators with the State of Mississippi. A second JCSD internal investigation is underway involving the use of JCSD personnel and equipment in a second movie entitled “The Dinner Party.” Both movies were filmed prior to the Sheriff Joe Berlin administration taking office in January of 2020.

“We are saddened that JCSD personnel and resources were illegally used in a movie, and potentially two movies, that depicts law enforcement in a negative light,” Sumrall said. “Even worse is that Jones County taxpayers unwittingly paid for the resources used. It is important to note, that no JCSD personnel who were ordered to participate in the movie(s) were used in any scenes which depicted unethical or sexual behaviors.”

The internal investigation into the second movie is underway and any participation of JCSD personnel, vehicles, and equipment is yet to be determined.

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