SHERIFF'S CORNER: Revisiting classic shows

Sheriff Rich Martin

Sheriff Rich Martin

Courtesy of Rich Martin, Lake County Sheriff's Office

I have had several requests to repost my article from a few years back about "Sheriff's from the Small and Big screen." I did, however, add a few additional "Sheriff's" that readers had asked about. Remember, this article was originally posted during the beginning of the COVID fiasco. Without further ado ...

With your Bud Light and Busch Light beer can collection growing to new heights under the deposit can return ban, and the inability to get a haircut due to the ban on barber shops and hair salons, it made me think of the '80s classic TV show of two outlaw fellas, with overgrown feathered hair, transporting moonshine ... in Hazzard County. Yes, you guessed it ... "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Then I realized with all of the dirt roads and similar establishments, that Lake County is kind of like Hazzard County.

For example, the North Bar in Luther is like the Boar's Nest. There are plenty of closed bridges that you could scale with your vehicle if the need arises, we all have a cousin who owns a Jeep who takes it on the trails and of course, don't we all have an Uncle Jesse?

This also made me think of one of the most memorable characters on the show, Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane.

So, in an attempt to take your mind off things for the moment, I'm going to change the tone of my normal commentary and go into a different direction.

In this edition of "Sheriff's Corner," I discuss sheriffs from the movies and TV. This will be a true sign of your age.


Sheriff of Absaroka County
TV show: "Longmire" (2012-2017)

So, when I originally published this article, I received some feedback for not mentioning Sheriff Longmire. Well, here you go.

The character behind Sheriff Longmire is a throwback to the classical Sheriff as we have seen in past westerns with an attitude for duty and justice.

As the series moves forward, Longmire is shown to have a strong aptitude for finding the truth for most crimes that are investigated. I would say the cool part is that Longmire carries a Colt .45 ACP and a Winchester .30-30 as his primary weapons, and drives a 1994 Ford Bronco as his duty vehicle and personal vehicle.


Sheriff of Hope County
Movie: "First Blood" aka Rambo I (1982)

"You know, wearing that flag on that jacket, looking the way you do, you're asking for trouble around here, friend."  Yes, he actually said that to John Rambo ... Rambo, dude! Well, we all know how that turned out for him.

First Blood was the first incarnation of the "RAMBO" series of films. Maybe this was my generation, but after these movies we all knew we had to get that super cool "Rambo Knife" with the screw on compass. Don't lie, you know you had one.

Sheriff Teasle is best described as a vindictive, bitter jealous redneck and control freak that is willing to abuse his power under what he believes is "The Law" to keep people he judges to be undesirable out of his town.

This phrase from Sheriff Teasle pretty much explains it: "First of all, you don't ask the questions around here, I do. Understand? Second, we don't want guys like you in this town, drifters. Next thing we know, we got a whole bunch of guys like you in this town. That's why. Besides, you wouldn't like it here anyway. It's just a quiet little town. In fact, you might say it's boring. But that's the way we like it. And I get paid to keep it that way."

That ended well since Rambo eventually hijacks an Army supply truck carrying an M60 machine gun and ammunition, and returns to town to cause as much damage as possible while blowing up a gas station, shoots out most of the town's power, and destroys a sporting goods store close to the police station. 


Sheriff of Cabot Cove County
TV show: "Murder, She Wrote"  (1984-1996)

So, someone thought having Mr. Cunningham from "Happy Days" play a Sheriff on TV was a good idea. That wouldn't of been my first choice, but ... who would of thought we would have Rich Martin the Sheriff of Lake County. I guess stranger things can happen. We can all be thankful that Fonzie, Potsy and Ralph Malph were not his deputies ... even though Nixon, Hurrle and Lounsberry are a pretty damn close second.

Very little is known of Sheriff Tupper's career, however, he was the sheriff for the first four seasons and was a deputy prior to that. He must have not been the best investigator since the main character, Jessica Fletcher, solves most of his cases.


Sheriff of Hazzard County
TV show: "The Dukes of Hazzard" (1979-85)

I remember watching this show once a week, I believe it was a Friday. We would all gather around the floor TV to see the next adventure.

With the Duke boys constantly throwing a monkey wrench into his shady schemes, no sheriff had his work cut out for him quite like Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane.

Coltrane frequently initiates car chases with Bo and Luke Duke, but they are often able to elude Coltrane, who usually winds up wrecking his patrol car in various ways. Why Coltrane didn't just go complaint warrant and then arrest them at their primary residence is beyond me.

With phrases like, "We're in Hot Pursuit!" "Enos, you Dipstick!" "I'm gonna cuff 'em and stuff 'em!" ... he was a character for all to remember.

The best part was the dopey basset hound that rode around with him named Flash, where he always said, "Let's get 'em, Flash," before chasing after them Dukes.


Sheriff of Newman County
TV show: "In the Heat of the Night" (1988-95)

Gillespie served as the police chief of the Sparta Police Department before being fired by the city council. He was later appointed acting sheriff of Newman County, which he later was elected to the position.

The show itself was a sequel to the 1967 film of the same name. In the pilot episode, Philadelphia detective Virgil Tibbs has returned to his home town of Sparta for his mother's funeral.

Sheriff Gillespie, for the most part was level-headed and seldom lost his cool. Many social issues were spotlighted during the series, in a time where you did not see must of these topics on network TV.

I guess you could also find Lake County in the story-line of the series, with its same diversity and mutual respect for one another.


Sheriff of Mayberry County
TV show: "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960-68)

Probably everyone's all-time favorite sheriff. Never carried a gun, never needed to, in a time where there was respect and everyone looked out for one another. Have you ever seen the meme, "The world needs more Mayberry, and less 'Jersey Shore'?" That hits the nail on the head.

Sheriff Taylor had a level-headed approach to policing with his abilities to settle community issues with common-sense advice, mediation and counseling making him popular with the town-folk in the community.

We can't miss talking about his sidekick and one-bullet deputy, Barney Fife. I'll leave that one alone.

If you think about it, you could also compare Lake County to Mayberry. The county sheriff's office is the only law enforcement agency in it's county, just like us. Everyone seems to step up when the community is in need, and LeeAnn from the Fabric Peddler reminds me of Aunt Bee.


Sheriff of Orly County
TV show: "The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo" (1979-81)

This would be a true sign of being a boob-tube watcher of the '80s. I'm not sure if many would remember this show or Sheriff Lobo. A hint might be that Lobo was the first nemesis of BJ McKay from "BJ and the Bear."

Lobo is always trying to make some side cash planning little schemes or hoping to take advantage of property he seizes from apprehended bad guys. His plans always fail when they are foiled by his two bumbling deputies, Deputy Perkins and Deputy "Birdie" Hawkins.

In the end, some how Lobo always caught the crooks that were involved and, although he typically got the money, he never managed to keep it.


Sheriff of Portague County
Movie: "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977)

Always in pursuit of the Bandit, Justice tends to take his hunt for the Bandit to the extreme and quite often this results in crashing his patrol car on almost every chase.

Justice takes any violation of the law very personally, and says in standard fashion, "What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law!"

In real life, "Buford T. Justice" was the name of a real Florida highway patrolman known to the father of Burt Reynolds, better known as the Bandit.


Sheriff of Deadwood County
TV show: "Deadwood" (2004-06)

When you think of a Sheriff from the Old West, this is where it's at.

Bullock's character was loosely based on a real sheriff and town marshal from South Dakota and Montana.

This was a time of the Gold Rush, where the town of Deadwood was pretty much located in the epicenter of prospecting in the unorganized Dakota territory. Bullock, moved to Deadwood to open a hardware store, but ultimately became the town’s first sheriff due to the death of Wild Bill Hickok.

Bullock had the tendency to lose control and beat the tar out of those that were breaking the law.


Sheriff of Multnomah County
TV show: "World's Wildest Police Videos" and "Cops" (1998-2001)

Remember that guy who was always kicking in doors on the first few seasons of "Cops" or the guy that was always commentating on that show with the car chases? This would be him, Sheriff John Bunnell.

Bunnell was an actual deputy sheriff, that was later appointed Sheriff in Multnomah County in Oregon where he served as sheriff from 1994-95. He ran for sheriff but lost his bid in the election.

As a lieutenant, Bunnell was featured in 15 episodes of "Cops" serving search warrants and conducting drug raids.

He has attained a cult following due to his over-the-top commentary style as commentator for "World's Wildest Police Videos."


County unknown
Movie: "Raw Deal" (1986)

You can't finish the article without talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played a former FBI agent that brutally beat a murder suspect, who subsequently had to take a job as a small-town sheriff.

The movie opens with a Jeep in pursuit of a motorcycle officer being chased through county roads and a rather large logging yard. When the chase ends, we find out that the guy in the Jeep is actually Sheriff Kaminski, who was chasing down a police impostor.

An old colleague of Kaminski gives him a chance to be reinstated to the FBI if he helps him by infiltrating himself into the mob to catch the main crime bosses.

In short, it's a standard "Arnie" movie from the '80s, with a lot of shoot-em-ups and bar fights.