When Rusty Warren left the Alton Police Department in 2010 to pursue another dream, he suspected he would eventually be back.
"It gets in your blood," Oregon County Sheriff George Underwood said of Warren's return to law enforcement.
Warren, 38, began his duties Nov. 9 as a deputy sheriff for Oregon County, replacing former deputy Darrin Sorrell, who was charged last month with felony theft.
Warren's hiring brings the county's deputy count to three, not including Chief Deputy Eric King and Underwood. In January, another deputy, Dophes "Gene" Barton, was charged with felony theft in an unrelated case.
Warren, who began working for Alton in 1997 and served as chief for eight years before resigning last year, said he was not intimidated by negative comments about the Sorrell and Barton cases.
"I don't have anything to hide," Warren said. "I am ready to start and looking forward to it."
Underwood spoke highly of Warren and the remainder of his staff, admitting that the charges against the two former deputies has been a "black eye" for all law enforcement.
Barton's case was recently moved to Butler County and is slated for a motion hearing in January 2012.
Sorrell's case, originally set to be heard by Judge David Paul Evans in Oregon County this week, has been postponed as Evans asked to step down. The State Supreme Court has not yet assigned a judge.
Warren resigned from the Alton Police Department in 2010 to work for Rutt and Strutt Outfitters, a venture that he said didn't pan out as he hoped.
Warren is an Alton High School graduate and nephew of longtime Oregon County Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren.
Oregon County deputy sheriff's starting pay is about $22,000 annually.
Underwood said King has been working on a state law enforcement grant application to supplement deputy wages.
If approved, the grant will bring deputy wages above the food stamp level, Underwood said.