By Dave Russell
Doug Farmer was drawn to law enforcement to help people. His retirement last week from the Sylva Police Department capped a 20-year career of doing just that.
“I went into this job to make a difference, and I feel I did make a difference,” he said. “I would always try to go above and beyond what people were in need of, like I’d want somebody to do for me or my family.”
He never wanted to just take a report and leave, he said.
“Even the people we arrested for drugs and stuff, I’d try and talk to them, to persuade them to lead a different lifestyle,” he said.
He started his career in 1998 with Macon County as a jailer, he said.
He quickly moved up to a road position, taking the wheel of a Ford Crown Victoria. After promotions to sergeant and detective, he joined the Highlands Police Department in 2005 as a patrol officer.
He worked about six months in Highlands before heading to Iraq in March, 2006, where he worked a year as a contractor with the Department of Defense.
“I was a civilian police officer, an ‘international police liaison officer,’” he said. “Most of the police departments had been decimated and they were trying to get it all set back up. We’d go out with a military unit and teach classes, anything from handcuffing techniques to weapon takeaways to just the logistics of working in a department and setting up a department.”
Upon returning home, he went back to Macon County as a deputy and detective before joining Sylva as a sergeant in 2010. He became a detective about five years ago, he said.
A case he worked that sticks with him is the Pinnacle Park spiking case, when the heads of more than 60 nails were clipped or cut off to create sharp, angled points, then set into tree roots along trails.
“We never did find the guy or gal or whoever did the spikes in the trail,” he said. “That case is still open.”
He might come back to the SPD in a limited role, he said.
“I told the new chief (Chris Hatton, whose first day was Monday) that I’ll probably do some part-time work, maybe some traffic stuff or work special events,” he said. “But as far as diving back into detective or something like that, probably not.”
Farmer feels the department has a bright future.
“I got to talk to Chief Hatton briefly, and my first impression was really good,” he said. “I think the guys there will carry on and do a good job. I’ll miss working with all those folks, past and present.”
Retirement means more time for his family, he said.
Farmer and his wife, Regina, have three children. Farmer is the Cubmaster for Cub Scout Pack 999 in Sylva, his son’s pack.
“I’ll try to spend time with him and teach him as much as I can about the outdoors,” he said.
Farmer is a Jackson native, a 1982 graduate of Sylva-Webster High School.
The town presented him with his Glock 19 9mm pistol at a recognition ceremony last Thursday.