Being a deputy matured Chris Erion; now it's time for what comes next in life
Leaving the Sheriff's Office after 20 years and six months of service is bittersweet, said K-9 Officer Chris Erion as he finished out his final shift before retiring yesterday.
He not only leaves behind a job he said matured him, he leaves behind his partner "Frankie," who will be paired with a new partner in the coming weeks.
"I've had a lot of great experiences. I've met a lot of wonderful people," Erion said. "I've seen a side of humanity, both good and bad, that I never would have seen had I not worked this job and been through experiences that have matured me. It's overwhelming to think of everything and trying to take it all in and think back over 20 years."
Erion joined the Sheriff's Office in March 2000.
He hasn't decided yet what comes next.
"I'm going to take a week or two and I'm going to kind of decompress and try to get the weight of the profession off of my heart and off my shoulders a little bit and reconnect with my family," Erion said. "They've been tremendous in just keeping things together over the years and the stresses that you go through. And they've earned it, too. It's not my retirement. It's something that they've earned as well."
Erion has four children, all under the age of 16.
Being a K-9 officer is a tough job on anyone, especially a family man.
"You have to be available," Erion said. "When that phone rings at two, three, or four in the morning, you have to be ready to go and go quickly. That takes a toll on everybody at home as well. I'm not getting any younger and you strap yourself to a 70-pound animal and go off into the darkness to wherever they take you. So it is a very physical job and it wears on you, but it's been very rewarding."
He's retiring at the age of 45. He looks back at himself as a 24-year-old rookie as somebody really didn't know much about life when he started.
"I was 24 and I was just a kid," Erion said. "I'm looking back now and I wasn't even an adult when I started. This job grows you up quickly."
His advice to young officers today: Do things right and do them the right way.
"Check your ego, because that will get you in trouble faster than anything else," Erion said. "Listen to the people around you that have been through the experiences that you're trying to learn. Take their advice. That's the easiest way to learn."
The tough job has been made a lot easier by the support of the people in the community, Erion said. He praised community members for the way they stand behind local law enforcement.
"I love this community," he said. "They back us and we know it and we try to be worthy of it."
Photo by Alecia Kaus/Video News Service. Article based on a recorded interview by Alecia Kaus.