SHERIFF — Guardian of Country Life

SHERIFF — Guardian of Country Life

The shotgun feels cold in your hand. The extended mag tube is heavy, leaded alternately with slugs and buck.

A good sheriff, he does so much for his community, so much time helping everybody, so much extra effort, not just his job. --- Ben Johnson

The late summer sun is going down and the light is fading fast. You move slowly through the deep shadows, and you drop into a gully to watch and listen. Beer cans and trash. Mud. Meth waste.

Your deputy responded to reports. The smell of raw chemicals. Cars coming and going up the dead-end dirt road, cars with out of state plates.

You called for local backup, and the DEA. Now you need to stake and wait.

Moving through the high weeds you see empty steel drums and you smell it— a meth lab, a big one.

A spark would set this place off like a 500-pound bomb.

You are a county sheriff. People think your life is about politicking for office, running Gomer speed traps, and serving legal papers. That’s because they have no clue.

Your deputy is well-trained, patient, smart, you trained her yourself.

She has cover-positioned herself opposite you so you share the front and side view of the building. She’s a mother of two kids and the coach of their softball team.

You hear the faint sound of a door. Peering through weeds you see motion in front.

Someone steps outside and lights a cigarette. Its a bald guy, a silhouette in the bad light… he’s got a black rifle, AK 47 or Ar 15… no, now you see, it’s a Mini-14, magus taped tandem.

The suspect steps out and starts walking. Hell, he’s moving steadily toward your deputy’s position. He halts, smoking, looking around.

Be cool, you think, stay cool.

You wish you had another officer in back. You wish you knew what was back there.

Now you hear a child crying somewhere. its coming from inside there. From inside the meth lab itself!

Do you go, or not go?

You’re the sheriff, it’s your call. Wait for backup, wait for the DEA, or do something now?

What would you do?

traffic accident crime scene

Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs enforce the law on the county level. More than any other law officers, they personally know their people, their citizens, their terrain.

Sheriffs usually are elected to their posts and perform duties similar to those of a local or county police chief. Sheriffs’ departments tend to be relatively small, most having fewer than 50 sworn officers. Deputy sheriffs have law enforcement duties similar to those of officers in urban police departments. Police and sheriffs’ deputies who provide security in city and county courts are sometimes called bailiffs.

Sheriffs and their deputies have one of the highest rates of on-the-job injury and illness.

n addition to the obvious dangers of confrontations with criminals, police officers and detectives need to be constantly alert and ready to deal appropriately with a number of other threatening situations. Many law enforcement officers witness death and suffering resulting from accidents and criminal behavior.

A career in law enforcement may take a toll on their private lives. Sheriffs are not like police with 40-hour weeks, because protection must be provided around the clock— weekends, holidays, and nights. Deputies do shifts, but sheriffs are required to work whenever they are needed— and may work long hours during investigations.

A sheriff is best equipped with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in Criminal Science and a minor in management can help. Sociology is a critical knowledge, and people skills are paramount.

A specific educational background related to law enforcement, such as deputy experience, or city police work, is fundamental.

A good sheriff must have highly developed personal qualities and be able to communicate clearly and persuasively.

An analytical mind, the ability to analyze large amounts of information and data quickly, and the ability to evaluate the relationships among deputies and citizens, also are important qualities.

The qualities of leadership, self-confidence, motivation, decisiveness, flexibility, sound moral judgment, and determination, all all essentials.

Because when the bad thing starts happening… it’s all on you.

You’re staking out the meth lab and suddenly the child you heard inside begins screaming. Someone yells inside there. A rough adult voice. The child shrieks.

You see your deputy rise up with her shotgun; she’s a mother and the kid in there shrieks again and you see her crouch/aim at the armed guy smoking a cigarette.

And now the guy sees her too… he’s shifting around toward her with the Mini-14…

Now you have no choice, all hell is about to break loose and you move and you move with the shotgun and your whole world slows to tunnel vision…

You are the Sheriff.

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