I hold Law Enforcement Officers dear to my heart and have been curious about the logistics of their position. In light of the recent violence against them in our nation, I felt compelled to meet with Creek County’s Sheriff face to face and get to know him better. I was honored he accepted the request.
Bret Bowling is a down-to-earth, humble, regular guy by Oklahoma standards…he wears boots, jeans and owns a few horses. He collects coffee mugs and baseball hats and his facebook page says he is “Just me.” But don’t let that fool you—he also wears a Sheriff’s badge which means he is not afraid to enforce what is right and stand against what is not.
He gave my daughter and I a tour of the building where he and his staff are housed. It is the original Sapulpa Post Office so the history is rich, complete with a hidden platform where inspectors could peek down on employees through openings in the wall. Sheriff Bowling has plans to display some historical memorabilia, including a couple of Tommy Guns, old jail bars and a vintage still in the foyer.
As we sat in his office surrounded by a framed copy of the Constitution and a Moral Compass wall hanging, which represents the Sheriff’s Department going true north, we heard eye opening stories about his time with the Sapulpa Police Department, being Undersheriff and the two years he has been serving as Sheriff. In fact, his office area is full of memories of the past. An intricate box made from Ramen Noodle spice packets created by an inmate, paintings on the walls; one in particular caught my eye. An angel, dressed in armor wearing the number 339 which represents Sapulpa Police Officer Larry Cantrell who lost his life in an accident along with his father, Mr. Charles Cantrell in 2005. There was so much meaning everywhere I looked.
Back to the present, the Sheriff spends his time meeting with Lawmakers , streamlining the department, speaking at schools and banquets, checking on the Juvenile Center and much more. He also represents Creek County on the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association Legislative Committee and is a member of the Creek County Law Enforcement Memorial and Oklahoma Law Enforcement Memorial Boards.
He feels truly blessed for his great team of people (87 employees) and for the Excise Board who has been very supportive and is vital for the success of the Sheriff’s office.
Currently there are 19 field officers covering roughly 970 sq. miles; that is about 35,000 rural residents. The Sheriff said he usually has 3 to 4 deputies out at a time on day shifts. We watched as their new system called Geo Safe tracked the Deputies and other officers such as Game Wardens while out on calls. This system is amazing to aid in their protection among other things. The Deputies now have Surface Pros and wear Molle Tactical gear. Long gone are the days of old fashioned Law Enforcement with horse, saddle and 6-shooters.
How we can be supportive
Now, for the nitty gritty; this is what I gleaned from our time with him, how we can be supportive as a community.
Every time an officer puts on their uniform, badge or gets in a marked car, they are putting their lives on the line for us, literally. Let’s not take this for granted. If an officer seems guarded it is because well, they are. Our Sheriff said, “You may know them but they do not know you.” Yes, they take the Oath of Office and they are willing to sacrifice for the public but their goal everyday is to make it home safely to their families. So, don’t get offended if an officer isn’t as friendly as you would like. Their job is a huge responsibility and they take it seriously.
The Sheriff recommends if you are pulled over (I’m sure most of you follow road regulations) it is of utmost importance to show your hands at all times. If you need to get your proof of insurance or license then tell them so. If you have a concealed weapon, don’t forget to disclose that information too. Hands present at all times no matter who you are! I would like to add to please teach this to your teen drivers who will no doubt be extremely nervous if they are pulled over.
Another thing to remember regarding the law is that it takes time. There is a definite process to follow and understanding how the Court System works goes a long way. We need to remember even the “bad guy” has Constitutional rights as much as we want immediate action at times.
There are only a handful of occupations where people are willing to sacrifice their life for another; it’s enough to bring tears to my eyes. I’d love to encourage you to remember to pray for them and their families. As we run our daily errands the kids and I will pray for the Police, Sheriff and Deputies, Fire and Paramedics (and their families) as their vehicles pass us. May I ask you to do the same?
Regarding the recent increase of violence against Law Enforcement, the Sheriff said, “It’s hard to put into words…the divisiveness between the good guys and bad guys. It is scary the country is becoming so violent.”
Our Sheriff has a true heart to serve and works hard for our community, looking not only to the here and now but to the future as decisions are made. Now more than ever Officers need our support, respect and prayers. Thank you, Sheriff Bowling for answering our many questions and making time for us.
Coming up soon will be a report on what it’s like to be a Deputy through my eyes after a ride along! That should be interesting.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 KJV