Wow, I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I retired. It certainly doesn’t seem like that long ago and it’s scary to think how fast time has gone by. I started my career at the Sheriff’s Department on February 18, 1985 and spent the next twenty-seven-plus years there. I got to do and experience many things most people don’t and probably a lot of things that most people don’t want to experience.
I started my career working as a deputy in the jail. Back when that jail was built in 1911, the jail building also doubled as the Sheriff’s home. The jail was in the back of the building and the front rooms and upstairs were used as the Sheriff’s family’s home. It was all concrete and iron and noise and smell and when I first started, I didn’t see how I could ever become accustomed to the clanging and banging and the yelling and the cursing and the phones incessantly ringing, but I did. The county population finally outgrew the very dated jail and a new jail and Sheriff’s Department was built two blocks down the street.
I spent two and a half years working in jail before being transferred to the Crime Scene Investigations unit. We didn’t call it that back then, we called it the Identification Division. The term “CSI” didn’t come into vogue until the television show, and let me tell you, it’s nothing in real life like it is on television. We women didn’t wear tight-fitting, low-cut shirts or run around with guns blazing. I called the years in that unit the “Burglary and Body-bag Detail” because generally, that was the crimes we investigated, along with a random robbery or an assault. We had, and mostly still do, very few homicides in the unincorporated parts of the county that the Sheriff’s department is responsible for.
The last fifteen years of my career I spent in the Patrol Division and the Detective Bureau assigned to the Crimes Against Persons Unit and the Cyber Crimes Unit. I’ve lived in the city my whole life and since I went to school there and worked there and my family lived there, I didn’t have a lot of reasons to be wandering around the other parts of the county. Needless to say, when I transferred outside of the jail division, I was pretty much lost. It was kind of a joke that I didn’t know my way around and when I joined the Patrol Division, I swear they’d send me to the southwest part of the county just to see if I could find my way back home. It took a while, but eventually, I learned all of the county, from the river and harbors in the northeast, to the subdivisions in the central portion, to the farm fields in the north and to the rolling hills in the southwest.
It was a great career. I remember when I told my mom I was going to be a police officer, she was upset and told me I was going to get killed. I told her I had more chance of getting run over by a car and being shot. I’m not sure that holds true now. I’m not sure I would make the same choice now that I made back then.
Policing has become a much more dangerous job than it was forty years ago when I first started my career. The lack of respect and the mentality that it’s okay to not obey lawful commands and fight back, the lack of protection from the very department that you serve, and overzealous left-wing prosecutors who succumb to the virulent minority, make it an extremely hazardous job both mentally and physically. But, my son loves it. He’s had a couple close calls, much too close for my liking. He loves it and he’s good at it.
Although I am no longer a part of the Thin Blue Line, it’s men and women will always hold a place in my heart.
Evolution of the patrol car…