By Dan Mackey
I grew up in a rural environment watching the Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry RFD with Sheriff Andy Taylor setting the stage for how I viewed the ideal law enforcement officer. His style of policing his town just seemed to be the perfect blend of savvy law officer and father figure.
He dealt with the criminal element ranging anywhere from minor misdemeanors to major felonies with the same unhurried composure. He always dealt with each “perp” as though he was their father and felt it was his duty to teach them the error of their ways. For those who didn’t “get the message”, well he was tough enough to handle them the old-fashioned way, too.
His strength went beyond the physical and leaned more towards strength of character sprinkled with a shrewd understanding of human nature. Sheriff Taylor never needed to catch the "perp" with a whole lot of shoot-em-up-bang-bang; he just plain out-smarted them with good old fashioned common sense, yet showed a whole lot of human compassion in the process.
The older I've gotten, the more I admire his character for the way he handled all aspects of his life, both on and off-duty. He seemed to always find the perfect balance between being a father to his son and being an authoritative father-figure to, and leader of, the community. To this very day, I still believe that, both on and off-duty, we need to be a shining example of how a law enforcement officer should interact with both the criminal element and the public. We need to be someone they admire, respect, and come to for help. I approach each and every day with these thoughts in mind and at the end of each shift, go home hoping I made a difference that day.