August 4, 2021

Sheriff Lee Vance passes away after a medical emergency at home

Therese Apel

Sheriff Lee Vance is interviewed on WLBT during the 2019 election.
Sheriff Lee Vance

Much-beloved Hinds County Sheriff Lee Vance died today at his home, according to the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department.

Cmdr. Tyree Jones confirmed that Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said the cause of death was natural after Vance was found unresponsive. He was 63 years old.

Jones said a family member had come to the residence after not being able to contact him and he was having a medical emergency.

Vance had been diagnosed with Covid-19 a few weeks ago. It is unclear if his death is related, though Supervisor Credell Calhoun said he believes it to be.

“This is a hard blow to the state of Mississippi, to the nation, to the city of Jackson, and to Hinds County regarding his death. Lee Vance was an exceptional not only leader, but person. He cared about his community and he cared about all those around him. We are all grieving right now as it relates to his death, but we’re here to say right now our condolences to his family,” said Jones.

Jones said there were many, many people who felt that Vance was a great leader and all-around great guy.

“He was my commander in Precinct 2, and that’s been over 20 years ago, and he gave me a chance,” Jones said. “He saw something in me, and in manhy others… we will miss the leadership he provided to his country, to his state, to his city and his county, not only as a chief of police, but also as an elected official in Hinds County.”

Part of what made Vance easy to follow was his candor with his officers and employees, Jones said.

“Personally he was someone I looked to like a father figure,” Jones said. “He was an individual that when I was wrong, he let me know that I was wrong, and he praised me for the good things that I’ve done.”

During the 2019 election, Vance revealed his belief as to why he fought to continue serving the city and the county that he loved so much.

“You can sit back on your couch and be a critic like a lot of people are, or you can realize that you’ve got a skillset to help the community that you claim you love so much,” Vance told WLBT. “And if you love it as much as you claim, you’re going to get your butt up and you’re going to get back out here and get in the fight.”

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said he has reached out to Vance’s family, and that his prayers continue to remain with the family.

“We want our residents to know that we will get through this time, an it’s important that we remain in prayer and it’s important that we support one another,” he said. “Sheriff Vance was a bright light. Not only the head of our law enforcement division in the county, he was a comunity-oriented individual. Sheriff Vance made you feel like he cared about you. He made you feel like he was your friend, and he was sincere in that regard.”

Vance served as the Jackson Police Chief from 2014-2017, appointed under Mayor Tony Yarber, and for a time under Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. He ousted incumbent Victor Mason in the sheriff’s race in 2019.

Vance spent most of his life serving with Jackson Police Department, working his way up the ranks and serving in several different divisions over his more than 30 years with the department.

He loved his God and his family, he loved his city, and he loved his officers.

Less than an hour after his death, current and former officers and community leaders were posting tributes to the man they called, “a great leader,” and “a true hero.”

From the staff of Darkhorse Press: Thank you, Sheriff Vance, for your service and your friendship. Godspeed.

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