Craighead County's Top Law Officer Honored

July 29, 2003 - Posted at: 11:00 p.m.m CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- After 30 years of law enforcement service in Craighead County, Sheriff Jack McCann was honored at a party Tuesday night at the Northeast Arkansas District Fairgrounds in Jonesboro.

McCann had just returned from service in the military in Vietnam when he joined the Jonesboro Police Department in 1973, but through the years, and through the ranks he never thought he'd end up sheriff of Craighead County.

"I started out as a patrolman, wound up as a sergeant in patrol, and I was moved to criminal investigation division sergeant, then lieutenant, then captain," recalled McCann.

His titles at JPD also included assistant chief and interim chief. Jim Hanley was chief of police when McCann was first hired on the force.

Hanley said, "Having been a veteran myself, a retired military man, I knew a good man when I saw him, so I hired him."

In January 1997, the sheriff at that time, Jerry Suiter, asked McCann to serve as his chief deputy.

"(I) Never really had any intentions of running for sheriff, but it was just the way things were at the time," McCann said, "I thought I had a chance of winning, and got some good people behind me, and we decided to run, and here I am."

Since taking office in 1999, the sheriff says one of the most rewarding parts of his job has been helping people in the community.

"Somebody needs rehab that we believe it will truly help, or just sometimes somebody just has personal problems," he added. "They just want to sit down and talk to someone."

Working the roads of Craighead County have lead him to many tough cases, including the Westside Junior High shootings on March 24, 1998, as well as the murders of Jonesboro residents Ruth Nisenbaum and Cybil Cooksey in March of 1989.

This grandfather says homicide cases involving children are the toughest though emotionally.

"...and that's extremely difficult to deal with. I'm talking the youngest was 3 years old; beaten to death," he remembered.

Sheriff Jack McCann said after 30 years of wearing a badge, he's honored Craighead County residents think so highly of him. He hopes to continue serving them for a few more years.

Jim Hanley said, "It's been a pleasure to watch him go through the ranks and on up in law enforcement. He's been a credit to law enforcement."

"I'd just like to retire, and spend more time with my wife and grandkids, and sit back and enjoy life for a while," McCann commented.