THE GUARDIAN OF GRUNDY COUNTY

In the heart of a rural small town in middle America, Sheriff Rodney W. Herring stands guard over the County of Grundy, Missouri. A sense of community, a strong work ethic and a desire for fairness are his core values. He accepts the fact that it’s more than a full time job. Being on call day and night, the badge never truly comes off, but Sheriff Herring would not want it any other way. He loves his job, the responsibilities that come with it and the family that helps him get through each day. As a result, he wants to give back to his community and leave a legacy of justice in Grundy County.

– Story originally photographed during the Missouri Photo Workshop #65 taking place in Trenton, Missouri. 

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Sheriff Herring works the front desk in the early morning of September 24, 2013. It’s a small community with limited resources, but he welcomes the multiple responsibilities that come with his job. “I would never ask my deputies to do something I wouldn’t do myself”, he says. “Especially as a small town sheriff, I’m the cook, the chef and the waiter.”

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The Sheriff checks on the inmates spending time at the County Jail. He says,“If there’s people that try to take advantage of people in my community, it’s my job trying to corral those people and make them accountable for their actions.”

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While at the office, Sheriff Herring takes in his most recent detainee.

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The Sheriff scans the detainee’s fingerprints before he’s sent to jail on an issued warrant.

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“I do enjoy my career,” said Sheriff Herring. “If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. I really don’t do it for the money.”

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Even with a full-time job and the many responsibilities that come with it, the Sheriff makes time to visit his girlfriend, DeAn, who works at the Children’s Advocacy Center.

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The Sheriff visits his stepdaughter, Haley, and 4-month-old grandchild, Maddox.

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Sheriff Herring arrives at his mother’s home after work. An election sign hangs in the back, reminding him that the position of Sheriff must be earned. “My family has been through three election cycles now. They’ve helped me campaign. They’ve helped me pass out fliers. They’ve been to the parades with me.”, he says. “They know that every four years we have to go through this as long as I want to retain my job.”

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Even though his work requires him to be on call twenty-four hours a day, he also needs time to take off the vest and put the gun down.

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Sheriff Herring lives by Christian values, a sense of community and swift justice. “I’m very fortunate to be in this position that I am”, he says. “Every day I thank God and the community and I just try to give back what I can and show the community how appreciative I am.”

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The Sheriff sits down for supper with his mother Delores and 14-year-old son, Brayden. He says, “When I go home, I’m Dad or I’m Rodney or I’m the son. They could care less if I’m sheriff or not. This position, this badge, gets me nowhere at home.”

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“I just hope people can remember me for being fair, that I was a good man and that I helped the community when it boils down to it”, Sheriff Herring said. “I just want people to say ‘Yeah, he did a great job and he helped the community and he made the community a better place’. That’s what I want to be known as.”