The former Marion County sheriff discusses his long and distinguished career.
Things are different now than they were when I was a road deputy. You used to be able to call people and say, “I have this warrant on you. Where do you want me to pick you up?”
I knew every Marion County deputy killed in the line of duty. The first was Deputy Edward Byrne in 1961. I was in the car with him that day, but my lieutenant sent me home. Two hours later, Ed was killed.
This county is strapped for money, but I refused to sell guns that had been seized.
The guns are destroyed in the basement of the jail. Machines break them up, and then they’re sent away to be melted down.
I would see kids come to the jail with their mothers to leave money for prisoners. A room next to my office was full of nothing but teddy bears. I would give kids one just to see their expression.
It was an emotional thing for them to see their loved one go to jail. I tried to give them another view of what a policeman is like.
The first thing kids ask: How many people have you killed? I’ve been shot at. I could have legally and justifiably shot a lot of people. But I’ve never had to.
I’ve always been able to talk people into putting guns down.
I gave the order to execute Tim McVeigh when I was U.S. Marshal. I was in the death chamber with him and the warden.
I cannot allow my feelings to interfere with my responsibility. If you can’t do what the law requires you to do, you shouldn’t be holding the position.
At the Baptist Temple, there were some very violent people that were tied in. They were ready for a Waco. Everybody was wanting to see a confrontation. But I was never going to do anything that would have caused someone to get harmed.
I was at a Pacer game the day after the incident was over. The attorney general himself, John Ashcroft, called me. He said, “The nation owes you respect for the way you handled that situation.”
You don’t have to use a jackhammer when you can get the same results with a screwdriver.
This interview originally appeared in the February 2011 issue.