After I ate my grandmother’s breakfast of hot biscuits with bacon and sausage, I would put on my pretend law enforcement uniform before strapping on a holster with a fake pistol to go fight the bad guys. Although my grandparents gave me the freedom to search for imaginary criminals in their backyard, I was monitored closely. It wasn’t for my safety — but for the safety of the badge.
My grandfather’s badge wasn’t a 25-cent toy purchased at a five and dime store, but a real Carroll County sheriff’s badge. From 1953-1957, my grandfather Leonas Garrett served as the sheriff of Carroll County.
I’ve always felt a connection to sheriffs. Whether it was Sheriff Andy Taylor, Sheriff Buford Pusser, Sheriff Wyatt Earp or Sheriff Buford T. Justice, these men who wear the badge represent law and order.
“Having a good sheriff is like having a 12-pack and a bag of Krystal burgers,” said my friend, David Hughes, from Dawsonville who specializes in eating doughnuts with law enforcement officials. “They always provide comfort on a rowdy Saturday night.”
Times have changed. While current Carroll County Sheriff Terry Langley and his deputies chase all of the problems in our society today, my grandfather made sure all of the town drunks sobered on a Saturday night so they could make it to church the next morning. Just like Mayberry, Carroll County had its share of Otis Campbells in the 1950s.
“Most of the inmates were really just local men who seemed to get in trouble on the weekends,” said my father, Jimmy Garrett. “Besides, going to the Carroll County Jail wasn’t so bad because my mother used to cook for the prisoners and I would run errands to pick up cigarettes and Prince Albert in a can for the prisoners.”
As I said earlier, times have changed.
I’ve read most of the classic works of Shakespeare, Hemingway, Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but when it comes to pure entertainment — nothing beats a good cop television show. Recently, my good friend Matt Webb, who is a bounty hunter in Louisiana, was featured on the television show “Big Easy Justice.”
“As a bounty hunter, we get to kick down the door,” said Webb. “The adrenaline level is through the roof. Just last weekend we caught the biggest heroin dealer in New Orleans.”
“Why don’t you just try bird or deer hunting?” I asked. “It’s a lot safer.”
“That’s too boring,” said Webb. “Birds and deer don’t shoot back.”
So, here’s to those who wear the badge and catch the bad guys. May you continue to protect and serve our communities throughout the land. Just don’t forget when you come home that it’s OK to allow little boys and girls wear your badge for a little while.
You may inspire them to become a writer.
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at email@example.com.