Before I became a Deputy Sheriff in 1977, I had been a teacher and coach. I just assumed all of the citizens in our little county were "everyday normal people." I soon realized that my assumption was off the mark...that there were indeed a FEW that did not fit that category. I learned that as a cop, I should not assume anything beforehand. Here are some funny moments I'll never forget . . .
A woman came to the jail one afternoon to visit her boyfriend who was incarcerated. I spoke with her in the front lobby, informing her that visitation time was on Thursdays only, and she would have to come back then. She was NOT a happy camper. I turned around to speak with a jailer, and I ASSUMED she was leaving . . . WRONG. She swung her purse around a couple of times and slammed it on top of my head. I was somewhat dazed, as her handbag weighed a good five pounds. Hairspray, makeup, keys and other items went flying. She ran out the front doors, and I tackled her in the lawn by the gas pump, handcuffed her, and placed her under she called me every name in the book. Well, at least she was able to visit...other female prisoners!
One night around 2 a.m., I received a call that a vehicle, with its blinker lights on, was parked in the middle of the roadway on CR 175 East. I drove out there and shined my spotlight through the car's windows. No one was around, and I saw no one inside the car. I ASSUMED it had broken down and the driver had gone for help . . . WRONG. A face popped up through the window on the driver's side. It was a teenage boy, a former student of mine . . .
"Hello, Robert. What is the trouble?"
“H-H-Hello, Mr. Dale . . . I am just ch-ch-checking my fuses," he stammered as he pretended to look under the dash. I then noticed his female companion, who was trying to hide.
"Robert, can't you think of any place to park other than in the middle of the road?"
"No, M-M-Mr. Dale . . . have you got any ideas?"
“Well, Robert, I think you had better head home. Don't you know I could arrest the both of you for public indecency?"
I left, and I ASSUMED he and his girlfriend went home . . . WRONG. When I arrived back at the jail, someone called in and reported a suspicious vehicle near CR 175 East parked in a cemetery. I decided not to go back . . . I should have . . . Nine months later, little Robert, Jr. was born into this world.
One evening, we received two calls, one right after the other, from two families that constantly complained on each other . . . almost every month. The other officers encouraged me to go tell them to start behaving like adults instead of 2-year olds. I knew the first couple quite well, as I had served them court papers many times.
"We are tired of your baseless complaints. Why don't you call the State Police and bother them once in a while? We have been dealing with your infantile tantrums for years!" I then went next door to speak with the neighbors, who I had never met. The lady told me her husband was the one who always made the call to police. He came out of the bedroom, and I proceeded to tell him to act like he had some common sense, get along with his neighbor, and on and on . . . As I spoke in a forceful manner, he nodded in continual agreement, and I ASSUMED he was finally getting the message . . . WRONG.
When I finished 10 minutes later, his wife said, "Sheriff, you just wasted your time."
"What do you mean by that?" I replied in disbelief.
"Well, Sheriff, my husband is DEAF . . . He didn't hear a word you said."
The city police contacted me one night to handle a shoplifting incident at a local grocery, as all of their officers were busy on other calls. I arrived and spoke with the night manager. He had detained the suspect, and he informed me that the man was acting very strangely. He knew the man had placed something inside his coat, but was not sure what it was. The suspect was a tall fellow . . . very nervous and with a mean look in his eyes. I could tell he was apprehensive of me.
"You might as well come clean and show me what you stole." He stared at me and then suddenly, in one swift motion, opened his trench coat and grabbed for something. I ASSUMED he might be reaching for a hidden gun. WRONG. With a wicked smile, he pulled out . . . A GIANT CUCUMBER!!! I breathed a sigh of relief. The tall shoplifter had ten pockets sewn in the lining . . .Twinkies, lunch meat, crackers, cheese, pretzels . . . you name it . . . a regular smorgasbord. Well, at least he was a creative shoplifter with a good appetite.
Police work can certainly be very tense and dangerous at times. At other times, you just have to laugh, or you will go crazy.

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.