I have always said one of the best parts of being your sheriff is the opportunities it provides to meet new people, interact with citizens and participate in many community events and programs. Ellis County really does have a lot of fine people living in it. But last week was a little different.

Out of town visitors are not uncommon in our county. In fact, local cities and chambers of commerce work hard to encourage visitors to come and explore our area. We have had visitors at the sheriff’s office from Central and South America and now we can add a few more countries to that list.

Until last week I was not aware the U.S. Department of State had an Office of International Visitors through their Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Now I know.

As part of the program, seven high level attorneys came to visit the criminal justice system in Ellis County. A part of that visit included a tour of the sheriff’s office and jail.  They all spoke fluent English so communication was not a problem.

It was interesting to watch as they absorbed their surroundings and “see their minds working” as if comparing our place to their normal environment. While touring the jail one question posed was, “Where do you keep your non-criminal prisoners?” That was interpreted for me as, “Where do you keep the political prisoners?” The group was told we do not do that here, but I still found the question interesting.

As with any whirlwind visit they had many more questions than time to answer them all and still keep them on their time schedule.  As they were departing I was told that they were going to eat at the Mexican food cafe a few blocks up from the jail. I wondered how many had ever experienced that type of cuisine before.

The men and women visiting were from Armenia, Brunei, Croatia, Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. It was really interesting to get to meet and introduce them to a Texas sheriff’s office. I hope they all enjoyed their many experiences in Texas.

Y’all have a Blessed Week.

Johnny Brown has served as Sheriff of Ellis County since Jan. 1, 2009, and is a graduate of the National Sheriff’s Institute. He has been in law enforcement for 20 years and holds a Master’s Peace Officer’s Certificate with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.