Sheriff Michael ‘Big Mac’ Ryan seeks re-election

Sheriff Michael 'Big Mac' Ryan

John Lee

When Gray County Sheriff Michael Ryan first ran for sheriff in 2016, he hoped to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the public.

Seeking re-election four years later, Ryan feels like the Gray County Sheriff’s Office has made large strides in bridging that gap.

“We’ve come a long way just by doing different things and getting our deputies to be involved in stuff,” Ryan said. “You see them now at basketball and football games. We’re really happy with how they are involved.”

While drugs will always be an issue in the community, the deputies emphasis to bring the “bad guys” in has led to more inmates at the Gray County Jail.

“People talk about how the jail is always a budget item,” Ryan said. “But since 2017 when I started, we’ve gone up by 300 inmates a year, and that’s what causes our budget to be high. When we took on the new jail population the budget just blew up. That’s what causes it to be so big on the budget.”

While Ryan believes the increased call volume and population at the jail is a vote of confidence from the community, he also sees it as deputies being more proactive in the field.

“It’s also due to the officers and deputies,” Ryan said. “We’ve got a bunch of young officers here and they’ve been told to go out and bring the bad people to jail. Before we used to not take certain offenses, but now we take everyone. It says in criminal procedure, ‘You shall arrest these people.’ That’s what we do. Not because we want to or don’t want to. These guys are bringing them to jail.”

“A lot of the people in the public don’t see that. They just hear about the jail in the budget. They don’t know what’s going into it.”

As the jail is an older building, approaching 30 years old, there are some challenges to maintain it.

“It still has its uses, but the problem of maintaining a jail is you have these young people come in with what they believe it to be,” Ryan said. “They’re not making a lot of money doing it (working at the jail). But they come in here believing it’s what it is on the TV shows, but it’s not that.

“You have a lot of people hollering at you, threatening you and people aren’t ready for it. They stay a few months and move on to something else.”

Some corrections officers also use Gray County Jail as a stepping stone to Texas Department of Criminal Justice or the police academy, which Ryan says is great.

Ryan said the as the new deputies have gotten settled in at the sheriff’s office, the emphasis to get out in the community and be seen around the county.

“A lot of our older guys have kind of weeded out,” Ryan said. 

“I don’t know why. It could be our ways and the changes to how we are doing things. But now we have a real good group here. A bunch of younger guys and a couple older ones to keep everyone straight. But the bunch of younger ones really like getting out and doing stuff.”

Ryan lauded two of those seasoned officers, J.C. Skinner and Lizz Beason.

“They bust their butts all of the time,” Ryan said. “Without them I couldn’t do what I’m doing. They just work and work. I really appreciate what they do.”

The continuing education by the deputies has increased as Ryan has been in office as well.

“We’ve got guys going to training it seems like every other week,” Ryan said. “Tyler Jernigan is so skilled in what he’s doing. He is always doing a training for the schools and some other stuff he is working on. A lot of it now is toward the public education.”

Some of these trainings also includes the collaboration with Pampa Police Department and Texas DPS, which is part of a great relationship between the three agencies.

“Those guys get along great,” Ryan said. “I’ve never seen it where it goes along like this. We always got along, but every time you go somewhere you see us and them. When they need back up, we’re there; when we need back up, they’re there. It’s just a great thing.”

Ryan wanted to let the public know that Gray County Sheriff’s Office is always there for you.

“Whether you need some one to come over and arrest a guy or somebody to help you out and feed your cat,” Ryan said. “Whatever it is, we’re here for you. I don’t want people to believe those ugly rumors (about law enforcement/GCSO). Everybody’s gonna have rumors and something they’re upset about. Stay away from those ugly rumors. We are here to help everybody.”

Ryan added everything he does with GCSO and the County he hopes is for the betterment of the community.

The last day to register to vote is Feb. 3, 2020 and early voting will be at Gray County Courthouse Feb. 18-28 in room 200. Election Day is March 3.

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