PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After more than 35 years as a prosecutor it’s clear that Larry Basford is enjoying his new role as the State Attorney for the 14th Judicial Circuit.

“We have a dedicated team of people who enjoy their jobs,” Basford said. “They enjoy serving the public. They care, like I do, about trying to make our little part of the world a little better and helping people.”

Basford handled most of the murder cases in the circuit and was the natural choice to replace retiring State Attorney Glenn Hess. Last year, the voters agreed, giving Basford the duty to prosecute criminals in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Washington, and Jackson counties.

“It is our job to seek justice in every case and sometimes that means making people happy with our decisions and sometimes people are unhappy with the decision,” Basford said.

State attorneys need a team to help them and finding the right people can be difficult given the salary the State of Florida currently pays prosecutors. They start at $52,000 a year, making them nearly the lowest-paid prosecutors in the country.

“It’s very difficult in this market, not just for us at the State Attorney’s Office but also down at the Public Defenders office as well as State Attorneys and Public Defenders throughout the state to recruit people to come in and be public servants,” Basford said.

Meanwhile, Basford has started to make some internal changes. including a new critical incident review team. This group of veteran prosecutors examines tough cases, like officer-involved shootings or severe crimes involving children, and then determines how to move forward.

“We’ll have our team review that and we’ll get a consensus on whether or not this person committed this crime and if there is enough evidence to go forward and proceed with that,” Basford said.

When the case concludes, the work of the team becomes public record. Basford said hopes this will allow for greater transparency.

Ultimately, even though there has been change at the top, the core mission of the State Attorney’s Office hasn’t changed.

“Each day is a new adventure and we have an opportunity to help people and make our part of the world a little better,” Basford said.