This week, I stepped into the shoes of Clay County Sheriff's Department Deputy Jason Frazier.
Certificates lined his office walls, and I thought to myself, "This guy sure knows how to shoot a gun." Luckily, though, nothing happened that day where he had to show me those skills.
After making a few phones calls in his office, Frazier and I seat-belted ourselves into a police car and drove around Clay County. He showed me the different gadgets in the car, as I had never been inside a police vehicle before.
The next thing I know, he was already pulling someone over. I had no idea why we were pulling them over, and I quickly learned through our ride that Frazier is always aware of his surroundings. It turned out the vehicle's license plate wasn't visible, something I didn't notice until Frazier pointed it out. He also noticed someone putting her seatbelt on as we drove past. I didn't see it at all -- little things naked to the normal eye, but seen by all law enforcement. A huge part of their job is observation, something I thought I was good at.
I learned during my time spent with this deputy that those of the Sheriff's Department are first and foremost officers of the court. Their primary focuses are the jail, court security and paper services. Secondly, they are a patrol division -- patrolling county roadways, looking for motorist infractions or criminal activity. They also respond to 99 percent of 911 calls, minus medical calls.
I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a lot of work -- especially for such a small department. Because of the size of Clay County's department, all of the deputies must be on call 24/7, which can make it tough for balancing home life.
As Frazier told me that, I thought of the photos in his office of a beautiful wife and three precious children -- a family he may have to leave in the middle of the night in order to keep Clay County safe.
Another downside to being a law enforcement officer, something Frazier has been for the past 10 years, is constantly dealing with negative parts of the world -- covering fatal accidents, suicides, domestic disputes, criminal activity and more can get discouraging.
"We have to keep reminding ourselves there are more good people in the world than there are bad," Frazier told me.
But being in the thankless job of trying to keep himself and the other 30,000 people in Clay County safe is something Frazier seems to have a passion about. He told me he absolutely loves his job.
"It gets in your blood," he said. "You either love it or hate it. You have to have a want, desire and drive to keep doing this."
It was obvious Frazier had that drive, and I, on the other hand, do not. But I do hold a great deal of respect for the law enforcement officers who willingly sacrifice their own time and sometimes safety in order to protect our community.
So as I step back into my own shoes, I'd like to thank not only Frazier or our Sheriff's Department, but all law enforcement officers for all they do.
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