I’m a huge Auburn football fan. I keep up with the players they recruit, know most of the coaches and their backgrounds, and watch every game. I know that Bo Nix, their current QB, is a fantastic player and was highly recruited coming out of high school. I also sit on my couch, knowing how talented Bo Nix is, and harshly critique him every time he throws an interception. I’ve never played a day of quarterback in my entire life, but I still sit there with Doritos dust all over my fingers, thinking I know how to do his job better than he does.
Last week I spent a shift working in the jail. I thought I knew the problems in the jail and was often frustrated about certain things that went on because to me, they seemed so simple and easy to accomplish. It wasn’t until I worked a shift down there that I realized how easy it was for me to sit in my office and talk about how simple the things I expected to be done were, but when I actually put myself in the position of my corrections officers, I realized it was much harder than I thought it was and my ideas and opinions from afar didn’t amount to much when it came to the practical application of the job.
I’ve said all of that to say this. It’s so easy for us to think we know every answer to every question, especially things we’ve never even done before. The incident involving one of my deputies shooting a suspect the other night is no different.
I’ve seen so many people talk about what should have been done or what they would have done, and my answer to those people is “come do it.” I’ll have a uniform and $13.44 an hour waiting on you Monday and you can show us all EXACTLY what you’d do in situations, actual life or death situations, that you’ve never been in before.
We answer over 20,000 calls for service a year. Hundreds of domestic violence calls, mental health calls, and many other dangerous calls. Our deputies answer those calls and handle them with tact and professionalism, but sometimes in this business, things go south and they go south quick.
To see people of this community attack a deputy based on a 90 second clip of video that would have 90% of them peeing down both legs if they were in that same situation makes me sad more than anything.
And the worst part is that I can’t release the whole story so people can have all of the information, because preserving the integrity of an outside agency’s investigation is more important than defending my deputy right now.
Let that sink in folks. In this situation, our main concern is making sure the investigation into this incident is 100% fair and unbiased, which means we have to let our deputy be vilified and drug over the coals by a bunch of people that don’t even know what they’re talking about to make sure the investigation is unaffected.
Even in the midst of this, our focus is still on justice. And at the end of that investigation, if our deputy is found to have acted outside of the law, he will be held accountable just like anybody else.
If he isn’t, then he will continue to serve this county just like he has for the last 20+ years, but with the knowledge that so many people he would give his life for jumped at the chance to tear him down with limited facts and knowledge of what he was actually involved in.
But I can promise you all this. When this investigation is over, I will post everything related to it on the SO’s facebook page so every single person that sat back and used their assumptions and narratives to vilify a good man can see it. And then we’ll sit back as a department and wait on the apologies to come, although I don’t expect we’ll get any if the officer is cleared as Justified.
But that’s ok. We’ll still be here to protect the people that hate us. We’ll still be here to put ourselves between the victims and their assailants. And we’ll still be here ready to give our lives, or sometimes regrettably take one, to keep the innocent people of Walker County safe. You can hate us for it, and you can pick apart our every move, but we’ll still show up, day after day after day, to hold the line between civilization and chaos. For the ones that appreciate that and support us, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. And for the ones that don’t, come see me on Monday and you can suit up and do it YOUR way. We’ll be there to clean up your mess, too.
Nick Smith is the sheriff of Walker County.