T was a young chief deputy in his early-thirties when I went to work for him. I was a mere babe of nineteen. He was full of life and drop dead funny besides being a born leader. Everyone at the Sheriff's Office loved him. He was a cowboy when he wasn't being a cop. I soon came to learn that he was the glue that held that place together. The Sheriff we worked for was a nutcase, literally. T was the guy that ran interference between us and the Sheriff. We never knew what the old man would tell us to go and do; half the time it was something not quite legal. We knew all we had to do was tell T and he'd tell us to ignore the order and he'd smooth it over with the Sheriff.
F was a patrolman and not much older than I was. I started out in communications on another deputy's shift. After a year, I switched over to F's shift and we bonded immediately. He was very much like T - down right hysterical, full of piss and vinegar, and a cowboy. F very soon became the big brother I never had. We wound up working straight night shifts for nearly five years (at our own request). It was heaven on earth. We didn't have to deal with the administrative crap during the day time and got to just do our jobs at night. Several other patrolmen came and went on our shift but F and I always remained. We loved our jobs and did them well but managed to have a great time along the way.
ER was my training officer when I arrived as a green nineteen year-old. She had been at the Sheriff's Office for ten years by then and was the best of the best. On my first day in the radio room we had a prisoner escape from the wash rack in the back of the courthouse. I watched with amazement as ER took control getting reports out to surrounding agencies and coordinating search efforts which finally paid off with his capture later that evening. I remember thinking that I'd never be able to do all that at once and yet by the time I left there I could do all that at once blindfolded. ;-)
ER left communications and became juvenile officer. When she got burned out a few years later, T offered the job to me and I left F's shift to move over to investigations. ER was the office manager there and life was good. I loved being an investigator and didn't do only juvenile work but did adult cases as well. I would have stayed right there if I could have investigated adult cases without fooling with juveniles. I burned out on juveniles in about three years. I realized I couldn't investigate one more molestation case and retain my professionalism. So it was back to communications (my first love) for me.
Around that same time, life began to change there. As an attempt to take down the crooked Sheriff, an investigation was begun that ended up with the FBI and State Police in our hair for nearly two years. By the time the dust settled, the Sheriff had faked a heart attack, thanks to his son-in-law the doctor, and T was off to spend a year in the Federal pen. Rather than take those who really deserved to go with him, T took the rap alone. As 1990 began, T was off to prison and F had left to work at another agency. ER and I remained but our office looked like the home for the walking wounded. Our once close "family" members had become victims of the war and life as we knew it was over.
Another Sheriff took over in 1992 and ER and I stayed were some of the very few that he kept on. The old Sheriff never went to jail and never admitted to his crimes. He wound up pleading no contest to one felony while the man who had worked hardest for him spent time in prison. I never forgave that old man and was glad to see him gone from public life.
I left the Sheriff's Office in 1998 and ER stayed on until she retired about four years ago. Until Saturday night, the four of us hadn't been together in about fourteen years. We've all done well along the way. T bounced back and has had a successful career outside law enforcement. So has F. Being with them all on Saturday night brought back all those years and all the good times that we had together. I never truly realized how very much I'd missed them until I saw them all there. We left at the end of the evening with the promise to keep in touch and to do this again soon. I believe we'll keep that promise because I saw in their eyes what I know was in mine - the happiness of being reunited with those who meant so much to me for so very long.
New friends are always wonderful but there is nothing like being in the company of a very old friend.