Charles Sullins has always thought of his career in law enforcement as a positive way to help somebody who is need.

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy career spans more than 40 years of service with several agencies. He is set to retire March 25.

“I’m not going to miss the job as such, I’m going to miss the people. I’m going to miss the people in the community and these guys that I work with. I have always thought police work was not just to lock people up. You know, if you really help somebody, that is what you need to do,” Sullins said.

“I have enjoyed my whole police career. I enjoyed it here and I love the people here in Waxahachie,” he said. “It was a lot different in 1968 – the city limits were not as big.”

Sullins was raised in Hillsboro and got his first law enforcement job in North Richland Hills in 1967. He then came to Waxahachie and worked for the city police department and was the first certified police officer in the county with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education. From Waxahachie, he went to Hill County and Red Oak and served on the drug enforcement task force before joining the sheriff’s office in 1995.

“The technology in law enforcement has changed a lot,” he said, joking that officers wouldn’t know how to use a Big Chief tablet if their computer went down. “They would not know what to do. They have got all the cameras and they got this and that. It is a lot different because back in the day you didn’t have all of that.

“The city was tight for money and when you investigated a case, say you wanted to take finger prints. Sometimes you had to save your fingerprint powder and stuff because if a great big case (came along) you would need it then. So you had to improvise,” he said, saying officers would use lead from pencil shavings or ashes from cigars or cigarettes as a dust for fingerprints.

He also remarked that when he started Waxahachie had a closeknit feel to it and he hopes the city doesn’t lose the small town atmosphere it’s always had.

As one of the two chief deputies at the sheriff’s office, Sullins oversees the operations of the jail and its budget. He is also responsible for the drug task force and what it does as well as oversees the communications function.

Through his career he said he’s handled many memorable cases but the one function of his job he has always enjoyed is being able to return property to people after it was stolen. Former Sheriff Wayne McCollum taught Sullins that even the smallest object can mean the world to someone, so treat everything with the same level of importance.

“Wayne McCollum told me that a long time ago. He pulled out his pen one time and said, ‘Charles, does that pen mean anything to you?’ and I said, ‘No, sir.’ ‘Well, that pen belonged to my great-great-great-grandpa and if it gets stolen it is pretty important to me,’ ” he said.

“You never think that as a policeman that something somebody might have might be that priceless. It might be something their great-grandfather gave them. He was trying to tell me that you take things and treat them with importance no matter if it’s just a pen,” Sullins said.

It’s also important in law enforcement to invest in the community of tomorrow by making a positive difference in a young person’s life, such as helping to coach a sports team or just spending some time with somebody just to talk with them, Sullins said.

“If I can just save one person it is well worth my salary by the amount of lives that they affect,” said Sullins, who sees a bright future in the sheriff’s office with current Sheriff Johnny Brown making a lot of positive headway in the office and in the community.

As far as his retirement, Sullins plans to spend more time with his family and relaxing. He also is considering keeping connected with the law enforcement community through teaching at a local college, which he has done in the past, as well as working part-time for vendors who go around to different organizations such as the sheriff and chief deputy associations.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.