Sheriff Paul Hays

We have had some really bad things happen in Jackson County in the past few weeks. Just recently Ms. Georgia Young passed away at her home. I suppose there are few people who are better known in Jackson County than Georgia. She worked at the funeral home for years, worked in McKee in various stores and never met a stranger. She was a great lady in every way and she will be missed by all who knew her. Peggy VanWinkle was taken from us suddenly this weekend. Peggy was also a wonderful lady who had a heart of gold and a very strong faith. She took care of adult disabled individuals, worked for a time at the Jackson County Detention Center and raised a good family. She was a good friend and I am very sorry for such a tragic loss. These individuals leave behind memories of love, caring and good-will for all they knew. Their lives touched a lot of people and their loss is significant for us all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. Perhaps we can learn good lessons from the lives they lived.

It is a serious matter to take another person's freedom. We receive calls every day of people who are walking on the roadway, some who perhaps are not known to the caller. When we arrive we often find individuals who we have arrested multiple times, who have what can be referred to as drug-related psychosis. Many of these individuals have abused drugs in the past which has altered their minds. Many may actually appear to be under the influence but, when field tested, are not actually "high" or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The drugs taken in the past, however, have damaged their brains. Some eventually come out of it while others never recover. It is not illegal to be mentally ill, although it presents a significant problem for law enforcement and their families. We have to make decisions on the spot if this person is actually under the influence to a degree that they should be arrested or not. We must decide on the spot if a person is an actual danger to themselves or others. There is a process that must be followed if we take a mentally ill person into emergency custody, which includes immediately seeing a mental health professional at Comprehensive Care and possibly involuntary placement at a hospital for a minimum of 72 hours. All these issues are complex and are based upon the information we can obtain at the time. We try to make the best decision possible at the time and pray our decision is correct. Jail should be reserved for people who have broken the law and deserve to be there. A person's freedom is a precious thing and we take that matter seriously.

Last week the Jackson County Sheriff's Office responded to seventy-five calls for service. We investigated four traffic accidents, opened three criminal cases and arrested four individuals on various charges. We work very hard to keep our county safe and secure and we are very concerned regarding the amount of serious crimes that have recently occurred. We continue to ask for your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

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