FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith is always working hard to make Franklin County a safer community. This year he put a lot of emphasis on giving back and helping those in need and made hundreds of arrests relating to drugs.

Franklin County is one of the smallest counties in the state of Florida. But, the sheriff’s office stayed busy from the beginning to the end of the year.

Sheriff Smith works hard to remove any drugs from his county.

“You’ve seen a lot about our drug arrests and closing down meth houses and stuff like that and I think we’ve made almost 200 arrests,” Smith said.

Once the arrests are made, he and his staff take extra steps to help those criminals become better people.

“If we get them off drugs, then they’re going to be working, raising their families, doing the things that the normal people do and that’s what we want to do,” Smith said. “I don’t want them in jail. If I had my way, I’d have an empty jail.”

Sheriff Smith said the number of arrests relating to drugs is lower than the average in years past.

Moving forward, there is one unsolved case, but they aren’t giving up.

“While we never recovered the body, Stacy Peterson, that was a really big thing here in the community,” Smith said. “Her mom came, and we did everything we know, we had a lot of agencies assisting us, we were just never able to recover her body. So that’s probably something that we’re going to continue to think about as we go into the new year.”

Solving crime isn’t all they do. The sheriff’s office was also busy with many other events.

“We’ve had multiple events here at the jail, for kids, for the community, jingle at the jail, Easter egg hunt, Thanksgiving dinner for our inmate cops and kids at the school, there are programs in our school,” Smith said. “I mean, the list just kind of goes on and on and on about all the different things that we’re doing to try to interact with our community, let them know that we care about them.”

Sheriff Smith also made sure his residents in need were taken care of with a charity fund. Over the last four years, $780,000 has been given right back to those in need.

“We bought mobile homes, we had a family who lost two children and their home and a fire we bought them a new home,” Smith said. “We had another lady who lost her home in a fire. We bought her a new home. “

Another issue they plan to address in the new year is traffic.

“In 2023, we’re going to have two full-time traffic deputies and right now we have one and traffic has become one of our major complaints on a daily basis, the way people drive and so we have to have more emphasis on that,” Smith said.

Sheriff A.J. Smith said his deputies are some of the best and have shown that throughout the year by fighting crime to helping people fix a tire on the side of the road.