The Madison County Board of Supervisors voted to settle a class-action lawsuit filed against the Sheriff’s Department over racial profiling.

Per the settlement, the county agreed to pay $160,000 in restitution to the plaintiffs, with $130,000 going to a couple who recorded officers interrogating them in their apartment following a break-in at their complex and $30,000 split among the four remaining plaintiffs.

The Sheriff’s Department also agreed to end its policy of placing roadblocks on one-way streets and another known as “stop and frisk” in which deputies detain, question or search individuals without probable cause.

They also agreed to set up a citizens’ council to serve in an advisory role to the Sheriff’s Department. The five-member panel will be made up of nominees from each of the five members of the county’s Board of Supervisors.

The lawsuit, filed in March of 2018, alleged the the Madison County Sheriff’s Department had targeted black drivers and pedestrians who travel in majority black neighborhoods.

According to the lawsuit, data show that while black residents make up only 38 percent of the county’s population, black individuals accounted for 77 percent of all arrests, 72 percent of all citations. 

Additionally, 76 percent of arrests at roadblocks and 74 percent of all traffic stops by the Sheriff’s Department were of black individuals.

Board of Supervisors President Trey Baxter said Wednesday he supported it because it was in the best interest of the taxpayers of Madison County.

“It seems that law enforcement is under attack nationwide,” Baxter said. “As far as the Madison County Sheriff’s Department is concerned, we are 100 percent behind them. This settlement cost us a lot of resources.”

Baxter added that the legal fees related to the case were more than $1 million, which was paid with insurance monies rather than from county coffers, but that the county’s previous insurer had dropped its coverage thanks to the lawsuit. 

The county’s new insurance provider, he said, is charging significantly more than the old one.

As far as the citizen’s advisory council, Baxter said he would make his appointment but that he did not see the council’s role as vital.

“I’m confident (Sheriff Randy Tucker) is capable of running his own department,” Baxter said. “But we’re going to go along with the four-year agreement that is in place. We’re going to move forward and continue to support the sheriff’s department.”

Tucker could not be reached for comment. One of his deputies was shot in the head after domestic disturbance and high-speed chase last week. The deputy remains in critical condition.