“I want thieves to know there will be eyes and ears everywhere!” Sheriff Hays recently reported, “The low-life thieves are running wild right now! We have a band of outlaws who are stealing anything not tied down. My deputies and I are working constantly, however, it is difficult to even keep the paperwork caught up on all the thefts and burglaries. You need to keep protecting all your property, lock doors and gates to prevent thefts. As always, I encourage you to purchase video surveillance equipment for your property, particularly your home to help us protect your property and lives. It makes a huge difference for the officers as we investigate crimes. To address the increasing thefts in our county, I am considering adopting a Citizen's Patrol unit throughout the county.”
Sheriff Hays organized a formal meeting last week to identify participants interested in providing his office with surveillance assistance and help make our county safer. People throughout the county attended the meeting (Sand Gap was especially well-represented).
Sheriff Hays explained to the group that attended the meeting. “This is how it will work. Your only weapons will be a phone, a camera and a notepad. You will serve as eyes and ears for the Sheriff’s Office. We would ask citizen patrol units to patrol the county from dusk until dawn as you have time to do so, monitoring suspicious vehicles and people who may be scoping out places to steal something. If you see something suspicious, take a picture from a safe location and jot down registration numbers. That information will then be reported to our office or dispatch so we can send an officer to respond.”
Sheriff Hays explained that he doesn’t want guns to be involved in any action. “I would rather let them go than get someone hurt. I can’t make you a police officer. It costs around $30,000 to get the proper training that would qualify you to be a police officer and we simply can’t afford that expense.”
The group discussed the means of communication so that information could flow between the members of the Citizen’s Patrol and the Sheriff’s office. In addition to monitoring for potential thefts the citizens in the audience also volunteered to conduct “welfare checks” on elderly and ill members of their community. This is always important but has assumed an elevated need due to the COVID-19 restrictions and the decrease in visitations for safety purposes.
Sheriff Hays was pleased at the turnout and said, “If anyone is interested, please contact the Jackson County Sheriff's Office. One must be 18 years of age or older to participate. We will need to do a basic background check to identify anyone who may not be eligible for this detail. We will not accept anyone who has previous criminal records for theft or burglaries.
THIS IS A VOLUNTEER EFFORT. YOU WILL NOT BE PAID, AND WE HAVE NO MONEY TO PURCHASE GAS FOR YOUR VEHICLES. THIS IS STRICTLY A VOLUNTARY EFFORT, BUT YOUR EFFORT CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN OUR COUNTY. If you are interested and want to help make a difference, give me a call at 606-287-7121.”