MURRAY – Not many law enforcement officers spend almost their entire career with one agency, but Sgt. Charles Tidwell worked for the county for 25 years, the majority of which was with the Calloway County Sheriff’s Office, before his retirement took effect this week.
According to a news release from CCSO, Tidwell, 47, began his lifetime of service in the U.S. Army in 1992. In 1996, he began serving the citizens of Calloway County as a deputy jailer. In 2003, he was hired as a deputy sheriff for CCSO, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 2008.
“A review of his career reveals many commendations from the public for going the extra mile to serve them in their time of need,” said Calloway County Sheriff Nicky Knight. “Most notably, in 2011, Sgt. Tidwell responded to a residential fire on McElrath Road in northern Calloway County. He was the first responder on the scene and could hear someone calling for help inside. Sgt. Tidwell broke a window, entered the burning house and rescued the resident.
“Please join us in thanking Sgt. Charles Tidwell for his many years of selfless service and congratulating him on his retirement.”
Tidwell said he started as a deputy jailer before the current jail was built. The old jail building is now used as the workhouse for the inmates participating in the Inmate Worker Program for Class D felons.
“Pat Paschall was the jailer when I started, and that was at the old jail, which is the workhouse now,” he said. “Then in 2003, I got a call from Dennis McDaniel, who was chief deputy at the sheriff’s office, and he asked me if I’d like to come over there. Larry Roberts had not been sheriff long, at that time. So there I went, and I was there 18 years until last Thursday, which was my last actual shift. (Tuesday) was my first day actually being retired.
“There was a short nine-month period when I did dispatch at Murray State, but that was a brief period. That was actually during my jail time; I left the jail, went to Murray State and then went back to the jail. Then I got the call from the sheriff’s office.”
Tidwell said he was born in Marshall County and moved to Calloway County when he was very young, attending school here and graduating from Calloway County High School. He said he didn’t have a lifelong ambition to work in law enforcement, but when the opportunity arose, he decided to take it.
“It never occurred to me to have a career in law enforcement,” he said. “Somebody I knew (happened to know) that was working at the jail and they mentioned they were hiring. I knew a couple of the guys that were working there, so I talked to them and I just kind of fell into it. It’s not something I had ever really thought about (before then). I didn’t play ‘Cops’ when I was a kid imagining that I’d be in law enforcement some day, but it worked out. It was a great fit and I really enjoyed the past 25 years. The whole thing was just meant to be, I guess.
“I always did well. I was a supervisor at the jail, and then I got promoted pretty quickly at the sheriff’s office. I was a sergeant for most of my career at the sheriff’s office, and there’s been a lot of turnover throughout the years at both places, and I’m just one of the guys who happened to stick around. I enjoyed it and I really enjoyed the people I worked with. There were a lot of people who came in and out over the years, so there’s no telling how many people I worked with.”
Tidwell said the turnover in personnel at CCSO isn’t as much now as it used to be, but it didn’t take that many years of being with the department before he was one of the longest-serving deputies there, so he got to help a lot of younger deputies coming up through the ranks. He said he was happy to see growth and improvement within the department during his tenure there.
“The agency’s grown tremendously over the last 18 years,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of great changes, and I think there’s some great changes coming down the pike. We’ve got some equipment now that I wouldn’t have dreamed of back when I started, like the vehicles. We used to have a lot of vehicle issues and we were getting older equipment, but now they’re in a position where they’re getting good-quality, safe vehicles. Back in the day, sometimes that wasn’t the case with some of those old Crown Vics we used to drive. I’m not faulting anybody, because for a sheriff’s office in a rural Kentucky county, that’s how things were a lot of places, but they’ve grown by leaps and bounds.”
Knight said he would miss working with Tidwell, who has now worked under four different sheriffs. In addition to Roberts and Knight, Tidwell also worked with former sheriffs Bill Marcum and Sam Steger. He said he himself retired in 2010 before getting back into law enforcement not long after, but he encourages anyone who has put in their time to retire if they want. He said Tidwell offered to stay on longer, and Knight told him he could if he wanted, but he would never ask him to do so.
“I’m super excited for him, and like I said, I’m (formerly) retired, so I know how it is,” Knight said. “I did warn him that I’m working harder now than I did before I retired, so he might want to watch himself!”
“I’ve got some offers and some plans, but nothing set in stone,” Tidwell said. “Right now, I’m just relaxing. My kids are out of school for summer and I’m going to take a little time and enjoy being with them, and then I’ll get back at it doing something else. I’m not sure what that’s going to be yet, but I’m sure it will be another adventure.”
Knight said it is unusual these days for someone to stay with the same department as long as Tidwell did. He said most people, both in the public and private sectors, are “chasing the money,” though he added that he couldn’t blame them for doing so. The most recent example of someone sticking with the department for a similarly long time was Dana Sheridan, who retired last year after 27 years with CCSO.
“It is unusual not to jump around,” Knight said. “I started my career in Murray and spent 15 years in Benton. I was dedicated to the citizens of Benton, don’t get me wrong, but it is really nice to police in the county or city in which you live and you raise your family. It is really nice to be able to do that, and I think that is what kept him here. I have to reach out to people from other counties to get any applicants (for new deputies), but our homegrown people seem to stay longer.”
At the May Calloway County Fiscal Court meeting, Chief Deputy Jody Cash requested that the court declare Tidwell’s service firearm surplus so it could be given to him as a retirement gift. He said CCSO retrieved the firearm from Tidwell and took it out of service so it could be engraved with his name and rank, sheriff’s logo and sergeant stripes.
“We have collected money within the department to pay the fair market price to the department for that firearm to be given to him as a retirement gift,” Cash told the court before magistrates voted to grant the request last month.