- Associated Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) - In 1975, Ted Heavrin was a rookie police officer with the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department.

His base pay was around $6,500 a year. He worked two jobs to make ends meet, and was one of only a handful of officers on the force. At times, he had to work in the jail and handle radio duties. There was no one else.

A lot has changed in 40 years, but one thing has not: Heavrin’s love for Floyd County and his job.

“When I hired in we were lucky to have one man on the street,” Heavrin told the News and Tribune (bit.ly/16mmJ0M). “On weekends, we used reserves. You just did what you had to do. We did the best with what we had.”

Heavrin, 73, is retiring Jan. 2 from the department he has called home for nearly four decades. Despite being in great shape and in good health, Heavrin said it’s time to move on. He is tired of dealing with cold mornings and snow, but admits he will miss the people.

“I love talking to people. That is how you build the trust and respect in the community,” he said. “I try to tell these young guys around here that your mouth can get you out of a lot of trouble, but it can also get you into trouble.

“I always enjoyed meeting and talking to people in the county.”

The police work load, growth in the county and advances in equipment have changed dramatically since 1975. Heavrin said today officers have a clothing and equipment allowances, unlike it was in 1975 when he had to buy his own gun. He said one reason he ran for the Floyd County Council for the first time was to help be a voice for the department. He served 20 years on the council.

“At the time, there were some people on the council who didn’t give us a lot of respect,” he said. “Some told me I shouldn’t be on the council because it was a conflict of interest. I told them I know when it is a conflict of interest.”

Heavrin has dealt with tragedy from fatal car accidents to murders and suicides while serving as a police officer. But that is part of the daily routine for those in law enforcement.

A few accidents never leave his memory, however, no matter how many years have passed. He said there was one serious accident on Interstate 64 where the impact was so severe, a small child was pushed under the dash board. He said he heard the child making noises, that is how he knew someone was under the rubble. The child later died.

Another head-on accident, on Ind. 111 South, killed three people. While he still remembers certain events, he said as a police officer you have to move forward.

“If you dwell on it, or keep thinking about it, you won’t be able to do your job,” he said. “I tried not to take it home. That is why I always liked going home to my kids, and coaching T-ball and youth basketball.

“I love working with kids, they are our future.”

Heavrin said his ability to communicate with the public has helped defuse many domestic situations.

“If a man and wife are fighting, many times if you just sit down with them and talk it out you can resolve it,” he said. “You just try and treat people the way you want to be treated. But if there is physical violence, then I will arrest you. Just seems like there is more stress on parents now.”

Heavrin said his stint in Vietnam also taught him a lesson or two.

“You realized over there people are trying to kill you,” he said. “You learn a lot about life in a short time. I think my military service helped me as a police officer.”

Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills praised Heavrin for his service to the department.

“Chief Heavrin has been a dedicated chief and has been instrumental in promoting and advancing the sheriff’s department into the 21st century with dignity and loyalty,” Mills said in a statement. “He is the longest-serving county officer for Floyd County.”

Heavrin credits clean living, a daily workout regimen and his mother’s genes for being able to maintain his health and strength which are both needed as a police officer. His mother lived until she was 96.

He said he will remain active in retirement, and doesn’t rule out working a few days a week, maybe in law enforcement.

“It will be different,” he said of being retired. “But if I look out the window January 3 and there is 3 or 4 inches (of snow) on the ground, I’ll know I won’t have to go out and mess with it. That will be nice.”


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com

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