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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Giving cops a good name

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chief Deputy Eric King said he enjoys visiting students at the Alton Elementary School to teach them that police officers are around to keep people safe, not to scare them. Photo by Emily McIntosh
Chief Deputy Eric R. King has had quite a bit of experience and training in being a police officer at the Oregon County Sheriff's Department for 15 years.

This rough looking, tattooed cop gives the impression that you don't want to mess with him in a dark alley. That may be true about him with his multitude of hours of training built up as a cop, but there is also a softer side of him who wants to teach people that police officers are there to help, not harm them.

"I like helping people," King said. "That's probably the one thing I enjoy more than anything."

After King received his high school diploma from the Alton R-IV High School in 1989, he joined the Navy. When he came back home, he said he did odd jobs here and there to make money until one day he got a call from the sheriff's department, and the former chief deputy asked him if he would be interested in dispatching. King said he tried it out and began enjoying it.

He didn't serve the sheriff's department long as a dispatcher before he graduated from the academy and became a deputy sheriff in 1994.

When his family started growing, in 1997, he became a reserve deputy and worked as a field technician for Ledbetter, Toth & Associates to earn more money for family expenses.

In 2001, with the death of Chief Deputy Nathan Murphy, King found himself needed back again at the sheriff's department. King replaced Murphy as chief deputy of Oregon County. King said Murphy was killed on duty while pursuing a subject in a vehicle chase.

"I have some big shoes to fill," King said about his predecessor.

Over the years, King said he has tried to fulfill the same expectations as Murphy was able to do. King now trains officers in firearms. "I enjoy teaching and showing everybody and teaching them to make sure everybody comes home, and when you get down to it, the job is basically about helping people," King said.

Out of all of the training he has done, he said he likes firearms training the most. "I probably enjoy shooting as much as anything," he said. "Me and my daughters shoot together."

King also is a Haz-Mat technician with the West Plains Regional Response Team, which responds to areas throughout the state for hazardous incidents. He is also a member of the Alton Volunteer Fire Department.

Participating in investigations is one of the many activities he said he likes to do with his job as chief deputy. But, he also likes stopping by the schools to teach students that police officers are the good guys even though they might seem scary at first.

King said there are kids across the nation who see their mommy and daddy in handcuffs and associate cops with bad things. "We show them we're not the troll living under the bridge," King said.

He said those working in the sheriff's department do an excellent job. "I really enjoy the people we work with," King said.

He said one thing he wanted to do for the community by becoming a police officer was to give back to the community. "More than anything, I wanted to make a difference," King said. "I think everybody owes something to society."

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