Among some of Weaver's proudest accomplishments, besides crimes his office has helped solve, is being a part of the team that established a Drug Task Force in the Sixteen Judicial District, improvements in safety and security at the Sharp County Jail, improved security of the courts and establishing a 9-1-1 system for Sharp County.
Weaver was the guest of honor on Dec. 7 at a retirement reception held at the Ash Flat Church of Christ. Most of his former bosses, as well as area sheriffs and former sheriffs, were present to bid him farewell. The crowd was out in full force as the ladies from the Sheriff's office helped prepare a buffet style meal. Also present were many members of Weaver's family.
Weaver began his career in law enforcement in Cave City in 1981. He worked there for two years, then went to work for the Independence County Sheriff's Office. Weaver said, "They tried to hire me after I was working there (Cave City) for six months." He explained, since Cave City had sent him through the academy, bought him a new car and other equipment, he just didn't feel right leaving them that soon.
In August of 1983, Weaver went to work patrolling the downtown Batesville area and later went to work in the county. In 1985, he was promoted to patrol sergeant and worked in that capacity until 1987 when he was promoted to Detective Sergeant. In September of the following year, he went to work for the 16th Drug Task Force as their administrator investigator. Don McSpadden, the prosecuting attorney, had received a grant to start the DTF due to an increasing need for it in the area. Using three different grants combined with lots of hard work, they made the program successful. He said Betty Ann Wyatt was his secretary and still works for the DTF today. They started from scratch and built a law enforcement agency making hundreds of cases a year. He worked in this capacity until 1993, when the 16th Judicial prosecutor changed.
Weaver said he was off for a short period of time before going to work for then sheriff Sonny Powell from 1993-1998. Weaver's career eventually took him back to work for the Drug Task Force, where he remained until he ran and was elected as sheriff in 2002. The 29 and a half years he has spent in the area have come with a few big cases and many vital drug arrests.
Weaver said of his tenure in law enforcement, "Had a lot of successes through the years. I think one of the reasons I was hired for the DTF is I was working as a criminal investigator and filing cases with the prosecuting attorney's department. We worked lots and lots of drug cases throughout the district. When meth came along, it was a whole different thing." To his best recollection, the problem started in 1996, when the department busted a lab in Sharp County. Then a few weeks later, labs mushroomed up everywhere.
Weaver said they averaged 100 meth lab busts each a year in the district while with he worked for the DTF. In 2003, a law passed to control pseudoephedrine. That cut many labs back, but now there is an emergence of the "one pot method" and prescription drug abuse. Weaver recalled how the department set Thursdays, when they weren't busy, to do what he called "knock and talks" with information they had gained about people who were possibly cooking meth. He said they would simply go to the home, knock and ask to search the home. Weaver said they had a lot of success with this, until he got a tick bite during one of the searches and became really ill. He laughed and said, "This cut down on the knock and talks for a while."
Weaver reflected on his past, including many of his past employers. Joe Stidman was his chief when he took office as sheriff. Weaver said, " He was such a good administrator and a good investigator. I was really blessed to have Joe as my chief."
One thing that stands out to many is the solving of the Terry and Kathy Watts double homicide case that occurred on Dec. 31, 1986 in Ash Flat. The case had some missing pieces, and on May 1, 2006, Weaver and detective David Huffmaster traveled to Florida where they finally arrested the man who shot the Watts at close range in their home. The following day, the two traveled to Kentucky to arrest the man who drove the getaway vehicle.
"One of the highlights of my career has been to successfully conclude the investigation on the Watts homicide. It was an old case when I came in. Me and David made at least four trips to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Florida. It was just a matter of being able to put it together,"Weaver said. "This gave the family closure. You can not imagine the elation that family felt and expressed to us. One of the brothers has passed away since. He got to see it solved and was so moved. The way it effected the family made it all worth it. It was something that made me feel like we were really doing something worthwhile."
Weaver said, "I went into law enforcement for one reason and that was because I thought I could help people. Now, I have been disillusioned a lot through the years. There are some people who don't want to be helped. I feel like, overall, I have made some difference and I have touched some lives along the way and there are a lot of people who have touched mine. I have made a lot of good friends and a lot of people I and the prosecutors have sent to the penitentiary who get out and shake my hand and say, 'Thank you.' A lot of people think they are angry, but that isn't always the case. I think we have had some success and that is always fulfilling"
After taking office, many changes were made, including the addition of a female cell block section and a sally port, security, reinforced judge benches and safety holsters. Central Dispatch is one of the things Weaver is most proud of.
He explained, "Bob Lowrie, who was working for Judge Crawford at the time, told him about the Center tower being for sale. The 300 foot tower was located on five acres with a fence. The county could purchase it for $17,500, but a ten day deadline was running out. I had a radio fund, so we put 10 percent down and waited for the quorum court to approve it and then purchased it all." Before the acquisition of the Center tower, the county had to used leased towers for the radio equipment, and systems were knocked out frequently. All the equipment was later updated and set up with a new generator.
Two or three years later, the sheriff received a call from Ozark Acres about another tower where the owner was going to cut it off at the ground. They wanted to sell it for $1 and the county obtained a 15 year contract on the tower. It was cleaned, painted and fenced and a new generator was placed with it. Now, the county boasts a north, central and one tower east of Cave City with a new generator and 100 watt repeater, along with a tower at the jail.
Weaver is unsure what he is going to do next. He said he considered running for State Representative, but was sure that whatever he decides upon, it will involve serving the people and solving problems.
Weaver's son Jesse was not able to attend his father's retirement reception but sent well wishes which were not received until after the ceremony:
I really wish I could be at your retirement party tonight to give you my congratulations and to mark the closing of a very significant career.
It's difficult to describe the pride I have for what you have accomplished these many years in law enforcement. It was never easy; from all the long night shifts in the early days, the countless phone calls day and night you would graciously take at home, and the many heartbreaking tragedies you witnessed. I am so thankful that the Lord has kept you safe all these years.
Even when I was young, it was easy to see that you were very good at what you did. Your understanding of the law and how it should be applied to serve the public is outstanding. Your investigative intuition and ability to find the truth are remarkable. Maybe of greatest importance, you have used your strengths as a teacher to develop many other law officers throughout your career. I often wish I could be half as good at what I do!
The impact of your dedication to the community is immeasurable. We will never know how things would have turned out if you had chosen a different path, but I believe the Lord set you on this one to impart his influence in your life. Your sense of fairness, justness, caring and belief in second chances are some of your Godly core values that have made all the difference.
I hope that in this moment and in the future you will look at your career as a gift from God and that you always consider it a job well done!
All my love,
The Villager Journal wishes Mr. Weaver the best in his retirement and future endeavors.