In 2005, I spent a few excruciating months working for a rural Sheriff’s Office in eastern NC. Shortly after I began, I learned that sheriffs’ offices in North Carolina are regulated by a much different set of rules than municipal agencies. Because sheriffs are elected officials, the requirements for becoming a sheriff or working as a deputy are much more lenient than for police officers. For example, the sheriff for whom I worked did not complete his high school education, which was not a prerequisite for taking office during his first term.
Fortunately, the time I spent working for that sheriff was ultimately a blessing. I would not fully appreciate my current situation had I not experienced the alternative. Working for an unprofessional manager with a quick temper and a slow wit makes one appreciative of positive support and trusting management.
The sheriff’s lack of formal education and abhorrent management style made for some very interesting situations. One of the worst, which now ranks among my favorite law enforcement stories, happened about two months after I was sworn in. The sheriff received a letter from the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Standards Committee informing him that my law enforcement credentials were revoked. According to the notice, the committee discovered that I had an undisclosed arrest record.
As a politician, the sheriff was always aware of his reputation and the potential for scandals like this to affect his political career. He sent a supervisor to my apartment to wake me up and escort me to the sheriff’s office (I worked the previous night shift). When I arrived at the sheriff’s office, the following conversation ensued:
Taft: Sheriff, you called for me?
Sheriff: Shut up! Sit down! Look, what the hell’s wrong wit you, son? I wish you’da told me you was a liar when I give you a job. ‘Least then it woulda’ saved me the trouble of firin’ ya now.
(This is probably a good time to mention that the sheriff had a strong eastern NC accent, began most of his sentences with “Look”, and had a penchant for cursing at officers…but I’ll leave that part out.)
Taft: I don’t understand.
Sheriff: Shut up! Look, you know what ya’ did. You lied on ya’ personal hist’ry foam (read: form).
Taft: No sir, I didn’t.
Sheriff: Shut up! Quit lyin’! You know what ‘ya done. Just shut up….
Sheriff: Well? Explain ya’ seff.
Taft: Sheriff, I still don’t understand what’s going on.
Sheriff: Shut up! The sheriff committee up in Raleigh says you done lied. You been arrested and you lied about it. You’s just a sorry liar.
(As soon as he mentioned an arrest record, I understood what was going on. I admit, a better man would have stopped the whole ordeal right here…but I didn’t)
Taft: Sheriff, you’re wrong.
Sheriff: Shut up! You just lyin’ again.
Taft: Sheriff, what details did they give you about the arrest?
Sheriff: It says right here William T. Love was arrested in Cabarrus County for drunk and disorderly. Why didn’t you tell me you was a no good drunk? You drunks is all liars, so I guess it makes sense.
Taft: Sheriff, what’s the date of arrest?
Sheriff: It says you was arrested in nineteen and eighty eight.
Taft: Sir, that was 17 years ago.
Sheriff: I don’t care if it was a hundred n’ seventeen years ago. You was arrested and you’s a liar makin’ me look bad to my constichensy.
Taft: Sheriff, I was born in 1984.
Sheriff: Shut up! I don’t give a lick about…. You was fo’ years old.
(The sheriff didn’t miss a beat. He leaned over so that he could see into the next office and address his secretary, Evelyn)
Sheriff: Evelyn, what the hell? How’d you miss this?
Sheriff: Taft, you a good boy. Get on back to bed, you need some rest to get back to all ‘at good work you been doin.
Until next time.