Citizens hope to regain trust in the Jackson Co. Sheriff's Dept.

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It has been nearly seven months since Mike Byrd was indicted on 31 state charges, including extortion, embezzlement and perjury. Since then, the former sheriff confessed to witness intimidation and witness tampering.

"You're a disgrace to yourself, you're a disgrace to your own office and many have lost their faith in law enforcement," that is what the judge told ex-sheriff Mike Byrd Thursday before he sentenced him to six months house arrest.

The sentence closes the books on the criminal cases against Byrd and many Jackson County residents say they are relieved.

"He made a lot of mistakes," Janice Alfred said. "So we are just trying to recover and just move forward."

"I think what he did was bad," Rita White admitted. "Considering the things that they said he did, say he did, they proved he did it.

Several at the Pascagoula Senior Center admit it was a shock at first to learn that the top law enforcer for the county broke the law, but now after months of watching it all unfold, people are anxious to put it behind them.

"You know people make mistakes and I think we need to stop all the negative talking and just move forward with it," White said.

"He's done a lot of good over the years for the county," Bruce Jones said. "The crime has been a process and I think he will do the time for what he did and let the county move on."

While most think it will take some time to repair the relationship between the sheriff's department and the community, all are confident it will happen.

"It's going to be a healing process," Jones said. "But we have excellent people in law enforcement and I'm going to depend on them."

"First of all, you need to show the people that you care," Alfred said. "And do the right thing, honesty and trust is the main key to restore the community back."

While the criminal cases have been closed, a number of civil suits have been filed and several others are pending against Byrd and the county. The alleged victims are asking for millions of dollars in compensation.

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