Taking Over

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Beginning Tuesday, a new man will be holding the office of state attorney's for the 14th Judicial Circuit.

Steve Meadows won the hotly contested battle for state attorney against Defense Attorney "Sister" Blackmon-Milligan.

Meadows says he's ready to move past politics and began his work for the people of the Panhandle. He has spent time in the courtroom as a prosecutor and on the streets as a police officer. With that experience, Steve Meadows won't be taking over as the new state attorney quietly.

Already noticeable changes include getting rid of the automated phone system, replacing a computer with a person.

"It's symbolic of the way this office is going to operate and that is going to be more responsive on a personal level to the needs of our community."

But it's the cooperation with local law enforcement that Meadows says will really overhaul the system to ensure career criminals stay behind bars. Better training for both police officers and prosecutors tops his list, along with some job changes.

"We have brought in some veteran law enforcement officers from around the circuit who are respected by their colleagues."

This is something Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen says this is the reason communication is already improving between the two offices.

"The fact that these guys already know what we're doing and how to do it, I think it's just going to expedite things and make it work smoother and faster."

Meadows officially announced reassignments within the office in early December. Randy Berling will be the new office executive director. Bill Lewis will take over as chief assistant state attorney, and Rodney Tilley will be the chief investigator.

Meadows already assigned a state attorney investigator to the Bay County Sheriff's Office methamphetamine task force, saying this is a drug that is plaguing the entire circuit.

Sheriff McKeithen says they have always cooperated well with the state attorney's office, but fresh faces can always add something new.

"I think because I'm kind of new over here that we're wanting to do a lot of new things, so I think it's just going to be a great relationship."

Despite new assignments and a lengthy to-do list, Meadows says he looks forward to working at the state attorney's office again and is more than ready to get to work.