Today started out to be a great day. My loving wife knowing I have worked several long work days this week decided to let me sleep in and got up at 4:00 with the kiddos and got them off to school. Upon awakening, we paid the bills, cancelled memberships to things we have been meaning to do for months, and finally went and bought the rest of the laminate flooring to finish the floors in the house. We really felt great knowing we were getting a lot of things accomplished that we have been putting off for a while. In the middle of our accomplishments Granola's phone rang and it was a 850 area code number. Not knowing the number she decided not to answer it and went about her business. A while later my phone rings, yet again another 850 number. Before answering the phone we both look at each other and immediately know something is going down in what we used to call home in Okaloosa County. I answer my phone and here FOTOA (AKA my father) tell me to go to the Northwest Florida Daily News sight and read up on the Sheriff's Office. For those of you who don't know, I worked for the Sheriff's Office for three years, and he was employed with them for several years himself. What came next sent a whirlwind of emotions through me that I haven't felt in a long time.
It turns out a man that I grew up to trust and even admire in ways had done something that warranted an FBI investigation. This man was my neighbor for a while, my boss for three years, and on a certain level a friend. I remember one time FOTOA telling me that this man treated me so generously because I was like a son to him seeing as his own son was so far away, and they did not have a very close relationship. I would spend summer days clearing the brush behind his house, and we would spend many nights together on the back dock of his house shucking oysters and swimming in his pool which he so generously opened up to me and my family. Our families would share many memories together, and they made the transition from Indiana to Florida a little easier with their kind hearts and hospitality to us. This man would take us on his pontoon boat out to Crab Island where we would spend several amazing summer days out on the water just enjoying each others company. We spent the fourth of July together on this same pontoon boat where his wife and I spent an entire night together trying to see who could be the life of the party. (His wife was a very energetic entertaining person to say the least) It was memories like these that made it a very simple decision when I was considering going into the law enforcement field. Not only would I be able to follow in the footsteps of my father who dedicated 30 years of his life to law enforcement, but I knew I would be working for a man that I respected and admired.
To hear the news today that this man had been arrested by federal agents for bribery, money laundering, and several other misc. charges sent my emotions in so many different directions. As a prior law enforcement officer I know that the feds do not bring a case against you or arrest you unless they have pretty concrete evidence to convict. My first emotion was pure disgust. I couldn't believe that the man that preached honesty and integrity to the 300+ sworn employees had betrayed all that trusted and respected him. This man preached those two words so much that you couldn't help but think twice and then a third time before you put any thoughts into action. Although it was my father and mother who first instilled these values in me, this man helped further them into my heart. To think that he could do such a thing sent a rage through my body that made me want to drive straight to Florida and tell him exactly what I was thinking of him at the moment. After reading update after update on the Daily News sight, and receiving phone calls, and facebook notifications about this breaking news, my heart started turning in a different direction.
I couldn't help but to start hurting for all of the people that are going to be affected by the actions of this man, and the others involved. Deputies that have put their trust into him who will now have to deal with the comments about a corrupt Sheriff's Office even though they have done nothing wrong. The families of those involved who probably had no idea what was going on will now have to deal with the ignorance of the public who choose to leave idiotic comments such as, "I hope someone kills him while he is in jail." Comments like these make my blood boil. Don't get me wrong, if he did in fact commit these crimes then he should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. However, he made a mistake. We all make mistakes. Yes he should be held to a higher standard due to his position, but show me someone who hasn't made mistakes. Yes his mistake is bigger than most, but it does not justify the idiotic comments listed above. My heart hurts mostly for the people who will be affected by this that had nothing to do with it. My heart hurts for this man who I still believe is a good person who got caught up in the temptations that come with such a powerful position. The man I knew growing up who opened his home to me and my family was a good man and I refuse to let the comments of others who don't know him on a personal level change this. He made a enormous mistake and for that will have to pay the price. I do not kid myself and believe that this is the only mistake he has made, but it just doesn't really matter to me at this point.
As stated earlier my emotions are out of control right now and there are so many more things to say that I will left unsaid. For any who feel the need to call me up, or facebook me the newest gossip on this incident, just don't. I respected this man, and he has lost a big part of this respect, but I will not turn my back on him for the mistakes he has made in the recent past. I sat in my car in my garage before going to work tonight in the pitch black and bowed my head and just prayed. I prayed for all of those affected by this incident, I prayed for the families and deputies that have been hurt by this, but most of all I prayed for this man who seems to have lost his way for a moment, and I hope others will do the same. So before dialing my number or typing in my email address do me a favor and instead spend this time praying that this man will ask for forgiveness from God and will somehow make things right in his life again.
Let He Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone