A lifetime of service

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Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington and Roy Rawls (left) at the annual Peace Officers Memorial in May 2013. (Courtesy photo)

Bossier deputy Roy Rawls retires after 34 years

Story by Deputy Josh Cagle, Bossier Sheriff’s Office

The longest serving deputy at the Bossier Sheriff’s Office has retired after 34 years of service.  Roy Rawls, one of the best-known and widely-respected law enforcement officers in this area, bid farewell to his co-workers, whom he affectionately called friends, on April 30.

On April 15, 1981, at 25 years of age, Roy Rawls began his career as a Bossier Sheriff’s deputy.  The late Sheriff Vol Dooley offered Rawls a job.  Rawls did not know at the time if this was really what he wanted to do or not, but he said that once he was hired, he enjoyed working as a deputy for the Bossier Sheriff’s Office.  Prior to joining the sheriff’s office, he worked in the construction field as a bricklayer.

When he started at the Bossier Sheriff’s Office, Rawls remembered there were only about 50-60 employees.  Back in those days the sheriff’s office had limited resources, including patrol vehicles.  “We would share a unit; at one point in time, I would get out of it, and someone else would get in it,” said Rawls.  “These cars were running twenty-four-seven.”

Rawls began his career in law enforcement working in the jail, as nearly all newly hired deputies do.  For five years he was assigned to the Corrections Division, and he was also the transportation officer.  Now when Rawls said he was the transportation officer, he said, “I was the transportation…period.”  He transported inmates back and forth all across Louisiana, taking them to the hospital, courthouse, and anywhere else they needed to go while incarcerated.

After his five years in corrections, Rawls was assigned to the Patrol Division, where he served for 15 years.  He would then serve in the Detectives Division for the next 14 years, where he finished out his career.

The way detectives do their job has changed over the years.  “Investigations has changed quite tremendously from the time I started,” said Rawls.  The tools that are used today are quite advanced from what was used back in the 80’s to early 90’s.  Rawls said the way crime scenes are processed today and the technology that is available today to detectives allows the task to be done more quickly.  “The tools (such as DNA, databases, and the use of social media) we have today were not even thought of back when I became a detective,” said Rawls.  “We are able to put a crime scene together much quicker today, which allows us to solve crimes at a faster rate.”

A career in law enforcement has its good days, and it has its bad days.  When an officer takes an oath to serve and protect, it comes with a price.  Not only do law enforcement officers answer calls each day that could be dangerous to them, but they also answer calls that have an effect on them emotionally.

One Labor Day weekend while Rawls was on patrol, he was dispatched to a drowning at an area lake involving a young child who was visiting from another parish.   Rawls remembers how traumatic this was, not only to the family of the victim, but to him as well.  “That was devastating to me.  Back then you didn’t have anyone you could talk to about your feelings, you just kind of had to soak it up and move on,” said Rawls.

Rawls recalls another similar incident while on patrol.  A 5-year-old boy followed his older brother and sister to the mailbox, and the child ran out into the road and was hit by a car.  Rawls said these difficult calls for service weigh heavily on the minds of law enforcement officers.  “We now have in place something we didn’t have back then, counseling services that assist deputies who have to experience such tragedies that are a part of the job,” said Rawls.

Although Rawls wasn’t sure that a career in law enforcement was what he wanted when he started 34 years ago, it didn’t take him long to know that he was in the right job.  “I love my job, I love helping the people of Bossier Parish,” said Rawls.  “When I put on the uniform, I’m reminded that I’m out here to do a job, and I’m going to do the best job I know how to do.”

A law enforcement officer has to conduct himself in a manner that brings respect to the badge, the people he serves and his law enforcement brothers and sisters.  This is something that was important to Rawls.  “I am going to treat everyone fair; there’s no color in Roy, I only see people,” he said.

You can ask anyone in the department about Rawls, and across the board they all say the same thing.  Rawls was dedicated to serving the community in a professional manner.  “Roy is a fantastic person, one of the most caring and unselfish people that you will ever meet, and he will be extremely missed,” said Sgt. Dave Faulk, Crime Scene Investigator, who had the privilege of working with Rawls for nine years.  “He is a huge asset to Bossier Parish, and it is bittersweet to see him go.”

There are a lot of demands placed on law enforcement officers.  Anyone considering a job in law enforcement must think long and hard to determine if this profession is really for them.  “First of all, you need to think about, ‘is this what you really want to do?’, and secondly, you need to decide are you willing to take orders,” said Rawls.  “You have to be patient and listen to your field training officer, ask questions…ask a lot of questions, that’s how you learn.”

When asked what the plans are now that you are retired, Rawls shrugged, and said he didn’t have any plans.  “I have no plans, just enjoy life,” said Rawls, grandfather of two.  “I am going to do some things I didn’t have time to do before.  I want to do some more fishing and hang out with my grandsons and other family.”

“Roy has been a great example of the kind of person that we need in law enforcement,” said Bossier Sheriff Julian Whittington.  “He embodies all the qualities that make a true law enforcement officer – courteous, professional and responsive – and he will certainly be missed not only by his co-workers but also by all the people of Bossier Parish that he served for more than three decades.”