Deputy forced to retire following injury

It was something Deputy Jeff Walters had had to do a number of times in the past.

A suspect was resisting law enforcement repeatedly, had previously been armed in the incident and had to be forced to the ground.

As Walters attempted to take down the man police had investigated for dealing methamphetamine, he heard a pop come from his knee.

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The 47-year-old Seymour resident who had served with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department since 2005 suddenly couldn’t put weight on his right leg.

“I just turned the wrong way and just destroyed it,” he said.

That was in March 2018, and the incident not only left Walters seriously injured but forced to retire.

Walters, who has had four surgeries and is anticipating a fifth, still has not been able to put weight on his right leg and attends physical therapy three times a week. He also has to complete home exercises.

At the end of April, he received a letter from his doctor placing him on permanent restrictions. That forced him to retire from the sheriff’s department, where he had wanted to finish his career.

Walters’ official retirement date was June 1, and he remembers Sheriff Rick Meyer — a political opponent the year before — stopping by that day and putting his head down as he read the letter.

Walters said turning in his equipment was the second hardest thing he has had to do. The only thing that’s comparable is losing his 50-year-old father 18 years ago.

“It has been your career, and you have to be supported by your family, so it really hurt,” he said. “This is all I wanted to do when I decided to do it.”

As he approaches another surgery and an expected lengthy recovery time, Walters isn’t sure what he will do when he moves forward. He’s not even sure his leg will be 100%, which he knows is where he needs to be to serve.

“I still have to live the rest of my life, and I’m not going to give up,” he said. “It’s just tough giving up law enforcement because when you dream about it and then it’s gone, it’s hard.”

He grew up around a law enforcement family. His father graduated from the law enforcement academy in 1974, and his brother also serves with the Kentucky State Police.

“It was something I always wanted to do,” he said. “I always kept my life straight.”

Walters has been a patrolman, assisted detectives, a D.A.R.E. officer, an Indiana Law Enforcement Academy instructor and more.

“I’ve done a lot of broad range stuff, and I never stopped,” he sad. “I always wanted to learn as much as I could.”

One of his favorite jobs was serving as a D.A.R.E. officer.

“Anytime you can help a young person, that’s a great thing,” he said. “That was very rewarding.”

Walters would lead classes at Crothersville, Medora, Lutheran Central School in Brownstown and St. John’s Lutheran School Sauers.

But now, Walters has to wait to get better and find out what his next move is. He has relied on his faith and support from the community.

“The good Lord is in control, and I know that, and there’s a reason this happened,” he said.

The injury also has given him a different perspective, one that he understands all too well now.

“We take advantage of a lot,” he said. “It’s really important to be able to walk, use our hands, see or hear things, but human nature makes us take that for granted.”