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Sheriff Spurlock talks mental health, shootings and deputies returning to work

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- It's been just about six weeks since a deadly ambush attack on New Year's Eve morning killed Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Zack Parrish, wounded four more law enforcement officers and sent shock waves through the entire Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

“We’re healing and that is about the best way I can say it … is we are slowly healing from this,” Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock told FOX31.

The healing has been crippled though, by not just one, but two other sheriff’s deputies in Colorado getting gunned down in the line of duty in the first month and a half of this year.

“It was what I called, we’re getting the scab pulled off before it heals,” Sheriff Spurlock said. “I can see that in my staff … we just need a break in trauma, if you will, to heal.”

Meanwhile, the other deputies shot in the New Year's Eve attack are all healing.

Deputy Jeff Pelle continues to recover at home. And deputies Michael Doyle and Taylor Davis have returned to work, on light duty, in just the last two weeks.

“It was not only for me, but great for the agency to see them come in,” Sheriff Spurlock said. “A lot of folks come in and see them and chat with them.”

They also ask about deputy Parrish’s widow, Gracie. Sheriff Spurlock said she's doing as well as could be expected.

“We’re eager to help her,” Sheriff Spurlock said of his office. “And when we had the big snow storm, we had some cops go over there and they shoveled the guy’s driveway that was next to hers. Then they had to go over and shovel hers, too.”

Meanwhile, Sheriff Spurlock is making good on his promise to address what he calls the county's and country's mental health crisis.

He’s talking with state legislators to find more places to put mentally ill people, instead of jail.

“The county jail is not the place for people to be housed for mental health issues,” Sheriff Spurlock said. “We don’t have the capacity to take care of them.”

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