He felt a responsibility, and a duty, to the people of the county, not only to uphold the law but to help avoid incidents wherein he might be required to throw someone in the local hoosegow. Mediating domestic disputes, giving youngsters a stern talking to (and let me tell you when that man got stern, youngsters listened..) and otherwise greasing the wheels of our little society were more common activities for him than slapping cuffs on people after the fact.
In my eyes, that made him a good cop.
His opponent was one of his deputies, who wanted the stature more than the job. He made promises during his campaign that he either had no intention of keeping, or was too stupid to realize he couldn't possibly keep.
Stamping out underage drinking. Wiping away drugs in the county. Peace and harmony for all, with lowered crime rates and leisurely walks on the beach. Never mind that we don't have any beaches...
Unfortunately, a majority of the folks in the county were too blinded by the shiny promises to look beyond them to his record as a deputy.
Questionable arrests, complaints, and a general air of power trip with or without the badge actually being on.
( "You know I could find a reason to write you a ticket, right?" he said to me one sunny summer morning before he began campaigning for the office. "You could," said I, "but would it hold up in court?")
So, he was duly elected, and proceeded to abuse his power.
Lets take a look at a list of what in my mind, seem to be his highlights.....
1. Locking a group of inebriated teenagers in a barn, because he couldn't stack them deep enough in his vehicle to get them all in. And yes, I do mean stack. Were they drunk? Yep. Were the charges justified? Entirely.
But what does it tell you when every one that contested the charge got it dropped because of the methods he used?
Aside from locking them in the barn and purportedly stacking them three deep in his vehicle (it is undisputed that he had too many of them in the vehicle to allow for safe transportation... the exact number varies depending on the person you talk to, and since I haven't talked to any of the teens involved about it, I'm just going to label the three deep thing as hearsay) he questioned them without their parents present, and used threats, again without parents or guardians present, in an attempt to learn who bought the alcohol for them.
2. The "Drug Dog"... that took off after a thrown tennis ball while working a traffic stop. Across a busy highway. Because the handler didn't have his leash.
I honestly wouldn't be surprised to hear that this dog "hit" on a ham sandwich in someone's cooler. The handler is an idiot, the dog is poorly trained, and the whole concept of having those two paired up and "working" seems to me to be a big red flashing neon arrow pointing towards a large suit for the county.
3. A while back, a man was killed. Our Illustrious Sheriff was telling anyone who asked (rather than declining to comment on an ongoing investigation, which would seem to me to be the prudent course) that it was suicide.
The information that I have is all hearsay, but it's from sources that I trust to actually know what the heck is going on, and not feed the rumor mill for the sake of feeding the rumor mill.
So tell me, those of you who have reason to know... how much talent does it take for a man to shoot himself three times with a shot gun, pick up all of the shells and get rid of them, and go lay down and die.
Oh, did I forget to mention, the three shots were to his head? At extremely close range, according to my information.
4. And one of the best ones, is his policy on concealed weapons permits. He is allowed to set the regulations and level of training required to get a permit in the county.
Since one of his deputies went through and became a certified firearms instructor, it is rumored that he has been requiring anyone who applies to get their training from said deputy. Since my permit was issued by the previous Sheriff, and re-issued at the beginning of the current regime's term, before the rumored requirement came into effect, I haven't had to deal with that particular little faux pas.
Since our courthouse went high-tech (shutting off the front doors of the courthouse and installing a metal detector on the south door) they haven't managed to hire a security guard. So, random members of the Sheriff's Department will man it at odd times, and the rest of the time it's turned off and unmanned.
One memorable day a couple of people were headed into the Court House on business, and The Man himself was manning the detector....
"What all will this thing pick up?" asks one.
"Everything!" Our Sheriff proclaimed proudly, chest puffed and extremely proud of himself.
As the first person walked through the detector without emptying his farmer's pockets (nuts bolts pliers and various other metal objects that can generally be found in any farmer or rancher's pockets at any given moment) our Sheriff deflated.
He hung his head a bit, and muttered, as his face began the slow red creep of embarrassment....
"It's not turned on."
It's just my opinion, of course, but it seems to me that the perfect job for a man of few words (and unfortunately it seems to me at times, a man of even fewer brain cells...) is standing guard over a metal detector that isn't even turned on.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking Pinky?"
"I think so Brain, but how will we ever get the people to re-elect me??"