Longtime Reserve Deputy Now Serving Owen County Full-Time
After the departure of two deputies in 2012 for positions outside of the county, Owen County Sheriff Chester Richardson III made what he calls a pair of smart hires. While searching for the most qualified candidate, he selected longtime reserve deputies who desired to join the department full-time.
“We do a selection process with our merit board, two other deputies, and I’m the tie breaker. So there are eight people who conduct the interviews and I just go with their recommendation,” Richardson said. “I always want somebody who has experience – these two guys already had it, so the merit board and other guys thought since they have been here and were on the reserves it would be a good opportunity to give them a chance.”
The most recent addition was veteran correctional officer and longtime reserve deputy Michael Browning, who also served for more than a decade as a member of the Owen Valley Volunteer Fire Department. The 300-plus miles of county road didn’t have to be learned, the constant ribbing from fellow officers was customary and dedication to his local community’s well-being was already a personal priority.
“Michael had been a reserve for quite a few years. Mr. Browning and (Joe) Hinton are doing an excellent job; after they get through the academy and other training they will be more experienced officers,” Richardson added. “Both are hands-on, know the county roads well and were born and raised here. It makes a big difference. They’re older and not young kids... this (job) is something they want to do.”
Browning worked for the past 11 years as a correctional officer at both the Owen and Monroe County security centers.
“The biggest difference between being a reserve and being fulltime is getting paid, it’s a job now, whereas before it was a hobby,” Browning explained. “I like working with the people. Being a correctional officer was a good foundation, it taught me how to deal with people from all different walks of life. A lot of the guys worked in correction before they were on the road. I’m able to deal with people who are hopped up on drugs or alcohol, calm them down and deal with the situation much easier.”
Browning also spent time with the Gosport Police Department as a deputy town marshal and served for a period of time as the community’s interim town marshal before becoming a reserve for the OCSD.
“This is where I want to be, I hope to retire from here,” Browning added. “I’m from Owen County, I love my community and this is where I want to raise my kids.”
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