Interim Clay County Sheriff ready for new responsibilities

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:37 PM CST
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HENRIETTA, Texas (KAUZ) - In Clay County, it’s being called a learn-as-you-go process, words from Judge Mike Campbell as they work through now having an interim sheriff.

This comes as Jeff Lyde has been temporarily suspended as Clay County Sheriff while he faces three charges of official oppression, including sexual misconduct.

Eight total applicants were given to Judge Lee Gabrielle last Friday, one by the defendant’s attorney and seven by the prosecuting. After a quick interview process, Gabrielle chose Constable Sydney Kirk Horton to be best fit to fill the position.

“She was being very fair,” Campbell said. “She wanted to make sure she looked at all of the possibilities. She actually called and talked to those people and reached her decision about Sheriff Horton based on his reputation and his experience. I believe she made a good decision.”

Effective immediately, Lyde is no longer serving as Clay County Sheriff and has been temporarily suspended without pay. Horton has stepped into office and begun sheriff duties.

“He has all the rights and privileges of being a sheriff, Sheriff Horton,” Campbell said. “Hire, fire, buy equipment whatever he needs to do. He has the authority pending approval from commissioner’s court for any budget items.”

Horton has a lot of experience and has been with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office for over 15 years.

“I was everything from a patrol deputy to working in the Clandestine meth lab, SWAT, K-9 handler and patrol sergeant,” Horton said.

He has also been the Clay County constable for the past five years, but he said it has been challenging having to step into this role so quickly.

“Mainly right now it is the administrative side of things,” Horton said. “Making sure scheduling is taken care of, coverage in the county, signing off on bills and getting everything turned in.”

Horton has reinstated the four Clay County Sheriff’s Office personnel that were put on administrative leave by Lyde. He hopes to restore the relationship between the sheriff’s office and the community.

“Basically, to help the community and the citizens of Clay County,” Horton said. “We got a little turmoil going on and in the meantime, I am just here to try to calm some of the waves and take care of our citizens.”

Judge Campbell said this will be a tough process moving forward because the situation is something unheard of.

“This is all new to us,” Campbell said. “Someone told me that it has been like 100 years since the last sheriff has been removed in Texas. Not a lot of case logs, so we are learning as we go. I have learned a lot of how this process works in the last few months.”

Judge Campbell said there is no timetable on when the next court hearing for the permanent removal of Lyde will be. That is Judge Gabrielle’s decision, and he doesn’t know when it will be made.