The thing about being the Sheriff of a county with just enough citizens to fill a ‘Cabela’s’ or ‘Bass Pro Shop’ in Dallas, (on Black Friday), is that…you tend to know folks. I was familiar with the green John Deere lawn mower/tractor and its operator hugging the bar ditch on FM34…We’ve met. Reserve Brody had clocked the tractor at approximately 15 mph towing a shopping cart filled with, what appeared to be, several cases of Keystone Light beer. I thought to myself…this is gonna be good. So, I decided to let my new reserve officer, Skip Brody, take charge of the traffic stop. This would be the first of reserve officer Skip Brody’s many encounters with one of Sweeter County’s most colorful residents.
It was not unusual for the Mayor to call and discuss county business, but those calls generally came through to the main line at Grace Falls City Hall. So, when my cell phone burred in the top pocket of my official Sheriff’s jacket that day, I was surprised to see the display read that Mayor Bernard Hobbs was on the line. Before he spoke, an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach set in. Maybe it was woman’s intuition or maybe it was the Doc’s Corner early bird breakfast and black as mudd coffee turning on me. Either way, my gut was telling me something, but I didn’t exactly know what.
I hit the talk button and gave my go-to greeting. “Sheriff Walker.”
“Justiss, Mayor Hobbs here.” And without so much as a how do ya’ do?, the Mayor, true to form, got right to it. (I suppose his time doesn’t permit for easy courtesies.) “My wife’s nephew, Skip, received his officer certification at the Round Rock Texas Training Academy. I think your department would be a great fit for his reserve. What do you think?”
“Well actually, Mr. Mayor, I’m not sure this is a good ti…”
As usual, he cut me short, “Great—Justiss, I know that under your personal training,” Emphasis on “personal”, the Mayor went on. “I’m sure he will prove to be a fine officer. I’ll let him know you’ll be expecting him on—How’s first thing Monday morning sound?”
Realizing this was not a request, I responded with, “Yes Sir. Looking forward to it, Sir.”
As Sheriff of Sweeter County Texas, it is my job and duty to see to it that my officers are properly trained as well as personally familiar with our counties citizens. Never let it be said that, Sheriff Justiss Walker is not hands on in her training methods.
“Looks like you got the tiger by the tail now, Officer Brody. Stay with ‘eem.” Forming my hands to a makeshift bull horn as to be heard over the yelps and girly screams coming from the tussle going on in the bar ditch between my new reserve officer and the uncooperative and likely impaired, farm equipment operator.
“Ooopf…look out! Ya’ almost had ‘eem that time.” (For some reason, when I find myself in these precarious situations, my redneck speak comes out.)
Reserve officer Brody found himself in a loose headlock and seemed to be having trouble verbalizing his current situation. He looked up at me with wide eyes that spoke volumes on his behalf and mouthed, “What the hell.” Then, finding a labored voice, “Aren’t you going to help me, Sheriff?”
“You just about got it under control. See, officer Brody, Dilbert here can get a bit squirrely when he’s on a mission. And I’d say given the time he’s giving you…he’s on a mission to get that beer home to his wife before it gets hot. When she ain’t happy, believe me, there’s nothing to be happy about in that household.”
Crackle…”Dispatch, this is unit one…again. Officer Brody is attempting to obtain the subject. Over.”
Crackle…“Unit one, this is dispatch.” Dispatch, being Maddie Mae, Sweeter County’s dispatcher/county office manager and all things Grace Falls, continued with a curious tone. “The subject?…Dilbert? Over…?”
Crackle…Crackle…Crackle…“Dispatch, this is unit one. Affirmative. The subject’s name has been confirmed to be one Dilbert…Eugene…Rhoades. Officer Brody has discharged his taser and now has the subject…well, somewhat obtained. Over.”
….Crackle…Crackle…Crackle “Unit one, this is dispatch, could you repeat that, please. Over.”
Crack…”Dispatch, this is unit one. Officer Brody has tazed the subject and now has him obtained. You copy? Over.” Crackle… Crackle…
I attempted to follow the scuffle with my eyes, and stifle a full blown belly laugh at Dilbert Rhoades on his back, twitching and rolling back and forth with his hands and feet in the air like a flipped turtle on the side of the dirt road trying to right itself.
“Just go with it, Dilbert. It only hurts more when you fight it—Try and relax.” I advised utilizing my make-shift ‘bull horn’.
“D-d-damit…Sh-sh-sheriff…g-g-get this asshole off me!” With a bit of verbal difficulty, Dilbert Rhoades attempted to plead with me.
“No can do there, Dilbert. He’s the officer in charge and you failed to follow his instructions.”
…. Crackle… Crackle…”Umm yeah…Unit one, this is dispatch. Officer Cole would like to speak with you for a moment.” There was a slight pause. Then, “Sheriff, he requests that you call him on his cell phone.” Another pause. Crackle…”Also, I have a few questions myself. Over.” Crackle
That was reserve officer, Skip Brody’s first day on the job. I ordered him to let Dilbert Rhoades go with no more than an impeding traffic ticket. To say that reserve officer Brody was disappointed with that order, would be an understatement. I explained to my new reserve officer that under our current DUI law, a tractor is not considered a motor vehicle. It falls under the implements of husbandry category, and therefore, although Mr. Dilbert Rhoades appeared to be drunk as ‘Cooter Brown’…what he had done…was not illegal. However, doing 15 mph on a 45 mph farm road, did fall under the impeding traffic law. Dilbert was quite vocal in pointing out that there was literally no one on that farm road at that particular time to impede other than the Sheriff’s Department.
All’s well that ends well though. Reserve officer Brody and I, just to be on the safe side, did escort Mr. Rhoades to the DIY renovated school bus he and his wife, Tami, called home. After all—he was pretty drunk.