By CARL SMITH
Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department Commander James Lindsey retired from the department Thursday after 33 years of service to the county, but he says many people thought his career was over two decades ago after he was shot in the line of duty.
In 1991, then-Deputy Lindsey responded to a domestic disturbance where gunshots were reported. While on the scene, a .22-caliber bullet struck him in the face.
“The first thing you think of is if you’re going to live,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey, who was at the scene by himself when he was shot, had to wait for backup to arrive, secure the scene and transport him to Oktibbeha County Hospital.
“It scared my wife because we had scanners back then and she was listening to it. She knew there wasn’t but two officers working then, and she heard “Officer down” and the other deputy, she knew it was me,” Lindsey said. “She was so upset one of our officers had to go pick her up and bring her to the hospital.”
After over a month of recovery, Lindsey was ready to start working again. Although rocked by what happened to him, Lindsey’s family was supportive of his decision to return to law enforcement, he said.
“I had a lot of people saying, “He’ll give it up,” but I never did,” he said.
Deputy Lindsey was later promoted to commander two years after the incident and has served in that capacity ever since. Lindsey has also served as a county constable for 31 years. He is running unopposed in the next general election.
His years of service have left Lindsey with a career he says he is proud of.
“The sheriff’s office has been a wonderful success story in my life,” he said. “I am privileged to have been apart of the department for 33 years. I was always grateful and respectful for the work and life of this department. I always made sure I gave back what I received.”
Sheriff Dolph Bryan and Lindsey’s friendship had well been developed before Lindsey joined the force — the pair had been friends since their school days. While working with Mississippi State University’s property control department before joining the sheriff’s department, Lindsey said Bryan would test his interest in joining the department.
“He finally called me up and said he had two openings. I took one of them,” Lindsey said.”
Bryan said Lindsey has been a large asset to his department and wished his friend well during his retirement.
“He is a fine person and an honest man. He was a really good hand for many years, but he’s going to be happy,” Bryan said. “Retirement’s not a death sentence. He’ll still be constable, and I’m sure he’ll be around the department part time.”
The hardest part of his 33 years of service, Lindsey said, was being away from his family, but he plans on making up that time soon.
“There were times they wanted me to do things with them, but when you’ve got a job like that, you could get a call at any moment saying they need you. It interfered with them and the things they wanted to do, and that hurt a lot,” he said. “My grandson is big into sports and looks like he wants to be a hunter. That’s what I’ll be doing.”