Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Wednesday's Post

April 11, 2012

The sheriff wore a white hat … and white boots!

April 11, 2012 —     The first time I saw him I thought he was an ice cream truck driver. He was wearing a big white hat, a white jump suit and white boots.

    Frankly, he didn’t look like a lawman but he was the center of attention as he strolled across the newsroom of a daily newspaper in a nearby state.

    As he got closer, I saw a large star-shaped badge on his shirt and another on his 10-gallon hat. He looked like a young boy at a costume party.

    Imagine my surprise when my boss called me over to meet this strangely-dressed man who actually was the county sheriff.

    He read my mind before I could ask the obvious question. He told me that he wore white because that was the hat and horse color of the good guys in those cowboy movies.

    It seems the sheriff was a wealthy businessman who decided that crime was getting the upper hand in his hometown and he was determined to be “the new sheriff in town.”

    He had been swept into office by claiming the city police had failed to enforce the law and that the city was like an old west town with illegal bars, gambling dens and houses of ill repute.

    This “good guy in white” was taking the news media along each time he and his deputies raided one of those unlawful establishments.

    He was getting Page 1 headlines and the lead story on the TV news on a regular basis – and loving it.

    I was selected to represent my newspaper later that night when the sheriff was going to raid another joint.

    A TV crew joined me at an after hour’s club where we could get photos and action film of the sheriff crashing down the door and arresting everyone in sight.

    We showed up about 9 p.m. to be ready for the 10 p.m. raid. Suddenly, the sheriff came charging in 30 minutes early. He was very unhappy when no pictures were taken.

    But he was not about to lose his coverage on the 11 p.m. news. He ordered everyone to stand in place until he returned. Some were already in handcuffs.

Yes, you guessed it.

    He and his raiding party went to the rear entrance and, just like a retake on a Hollywood movie set, they came crashing through that door with flashbulbs popping and cameras rolling.

    In light of today’s 24-hour news environment, that sheriff was 50 years ahead of his time.

    I chuckle every time I think about that night.

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