Departments support sheriff's office, family after deputy's death

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

INDEPENDENCE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - The law enforcement community across Region 8 has come together this week in support of the Independence County Sheriff's Office as they mourned the loss of Chief Deputy Jeff Sims.

Sims died unexpectedly on Saturday.

He had been in law enforcement for 20 years, spending part of his career at both the sheriff's office and the Batesville Police Department.

Independence County Sheriff Shawn Stephens said the amount of love and support his department has been given this week is overwhelming.

"It's been numerous agencies," Stephens said. "We had several that offered to help and we've had several that have come and had help here for us."

Stephens said his deputies were able to take time off, thanks to their brothers in blue.

"The day of the funeral we had the Arkansas Highway Police, Arkansas State Police, the White County Sheriff's Office and Lawrence County Sheriff's Office that sent people here to actually cover the day of the funeral so we could go," he said. "From the time the incident happened up until the day of the funeral, we had numerous other agencies would come and work a shift and help us during this time."

Stephens said this is a reminder that law enforcement is family, no matter the department, county, or city.

That also applies to Sims's family members, including his young daughter who was reminded just how much her father's coworkers care about her.

On Thursday, a group of officers in patrol cars picked up 7-year-old Ryleigh to escort her to her first soccer practice.

"He loved his kids and wanted to be involved in everything that they done," Stephens said. "And that was one of the things. This was supposed to be her first soccer practice, her first game is coming up this Saturday, and since he was so big with his kids that something we wanted to do in his honor."

The sheriff is also thankful for the prayers and support from community members.

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