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Hero Down: Hemphill ISD Police Chief James ‘Mike’ Hanks Dies Unexpectedly

Hemphill, TX – Hemphill Independent School District (ISD) Police Chief James “Mike” Hanks died unexpectedly while off duty on Feb. 21.

The 69-year-old police chief had just returned from a fishing trip when the incident occurred, KJAS reported.

His exact cause of death was not released.

The Hemphill ISD confirmed Chief Hanks’ death in a Facebook post the following day.

“Hemphill ISD is sad to report the passing of Chief Mike Hanks,” the post read. “He was a positive role model for our students and staff. Chief Hanks always had a smile, a high five, or a kind word to share with all he encountered and never missed an opportunity to brighten someone’s day.”

Chief Hanks served as a Houston police officer for 38 years and with the Sabine County Sheriff’s Department for four years before he joined the Hemphill ISD four years ago, according to his obituary.

“Officer Hanks will be deeply missed. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” the school district said.

Chief Hanks leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Sandy, as well as his children, Katherine, Kristian, Tina, Daniel, and Steven.

He is also survived by seven grandchildren “and many, many friends,” his obituary read.

“What an incredible man,” longtime friend Jan Svoboda wrote in a memorial tribute. “Character is the first thing that comes to mind. Always a smile on his face and a joke coming out of his mouth for the 30+ years I knew him. He loved life, his family and fishing. You will be missed Hanks. Godspeed.”

Chief Hanks was e laid to rest on March 5.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hemphill Independent School District Police Chief James “Mike” Hanks, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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