The law enforcement community came together Wednesday afternoon at the historic courthouse to pay tribute to one of its own, Charles Sullins. The sheriff’s office chief deputy is retiring after spending more then 40 years in public service.
“I want to congratulate you. Charles, you worked in every aspect of law enforcement. You have seen the good, the bad and the sad. We had fun doing it. You have to have some fun doing it or you would not have done it as long as he has,” former Ellis County Sheriff Ray Stewart said.
“Charles, you helped many people, those that needed help and those that wanted help and a few that needed it that we lost but you were there,” he said. “I watched you for all of those years and the people came first. It is time for you now to pass on the torch to another generation and it is time for us to go. I want to tell you, Charles, it is time for you to retire and have fun.”
Sullins was presented with proclamations from the Ellis County Commissioners Court and state Rep. Jim Pitts honoring his service as a law enforcement officer and to the community. A flag that is flying over the state Capitol in honor of his service will be presented to him at a later date. In addition to his career in law enforcement Sullins and his wife Paula served as house parents at the Presbyterian Home. One of the children from the home, Nick Flores, spoke about the positive impact Sullins had on his life.
“I was fortunate to come and live at the Presbyterian Home here in Waxahachie as a very small child and Paula and Charles came to work out there. They invited not just myself but several children into their lives and into their family. They became my family. If it was not for this couple up here I would not be where I am at today,” said Flores, a lieutenant with Red Oak Police Department. “I have now spent 27 years in law enforcement following after a man who was not only my mentor but was an idol in my life. That means a whole lot to me. I thank you for everything you did and for the sacrifices that you have made. We love you a lot and appreciate everything that you have done for everybody.”
Along with having family and friends on hand, a surprise for Sullins was the appearance of his son, Chuck, a member of the Coast Guard, who Sullins had been told wouldn’t be there due to attending a school in California.
Chuck Sullins thanked everyone for coming out to honor his father, saying he was “so proud” to be his son and thanking the retiring chief deputy for the knowledge and wisdom that has been passed down to him.
One of the more memorable gifts given to Sullins was from sheriff’s Sgt. Mike McKenna, who told the audience of Sullins’ love of the Glock pistol.
“As the primary fire arms instructor at the sheriff’s office shortly after Sheriff (Johnny) Brown took office, the sheriff’s office developed a uniformed weapon system with the Glock pistol. This was a sore spot for chief. He didn’t want no part of a plastic gun. He was very upset about this and we went around and around about this,” McKenna said.
“We actually got him to the range and he sat there. He just sat there with a cigarette and gave me a cold blank stare as we discussed this pistol. Finally, he went up there and shot it and did outstanding. He did not like the plastic pistol,” said McKenna, who presented Sullins with a Glock knife.
McKenna then told the audience that the knife had a safety on it unlike the one Sullins carried in his pocket that he accidentally cut himself with, a cut that required 11 stitches. As a further safety measure, McKenna gave Sullins a first aid kit to go with his new knife.
Sheriff’s Lt. Alex Zurfas honored Sullins with the Broken Arrow Award for his service with the Ellis County Narcotics Task Force. During his career, Sullins served as the task force commander, serving from 1995 to 2011. Tommy Hale with the Drug Enforcement Administration presented Sullins with a certificate of appreciation for his outstanding contributions in the field of drug enforcement. A video tribute also was done honoring Sullins.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown, Chief Deputy Dennis Brearley and Capt. Brad Norman presented Sullins with a rifle as a gift from everyone at the agency. On the rifle there is a sheriff’s office badge along with an inscription that reads, “Charles E. Sullins: a true public servant.”
Brown expressed his thanks to Sullins for his many years of service and told the audience how Sullins had befriended his dog when he worked as canine handler.
“When I came to the county I worked under Charles in narcotics for eight years but I knew Charles before that, I was a Midlothian officer. I had a canine and they would call me to go out with the task force and bring my dog out. Best dog in the state. That dog would do anything I told it to. It would climb a tree if I told it,” Brown said.
“The first time that I took it into the task force office, Charles starts trying to feed my dog human food and I’m like, ‘We don’t do that.’ I had already told all the narcotics guys, ‘Don’t mess with my dog, leave him alone.’ Charles is trying to feed my dog and ends up feeding my dog. Two or three months later we are in a parade in Midlothian and me and Charles are on the back of a pickup. My dog literally moves over beside him and sits. I’ve never forgotten that. Just ruined my dog.”
Sullins thanked everyone for attending, telling the audience he won’t miss the job but will miss the people.
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