When Butch Kerrick was elected Sheriff, I was approached by a new magazine named “Town Square,” to do a 1,200- word piece, on a local political figure. I chose Butch because he won his election by one vote, making national news. He granted an interview, and I wrote the story. I was writing for “Good Old Days,” magazine and they owned “Town Square.”
In the interview, I found Butch and I had similar experiences. We both wanted to be policemen, but had difficulty in Louisville and Jefferson County, in not meeting the height requirements. He joined the West Point Police Department and I became a part-time, armed security guard for Protective Services. Security agencies were not particular about height, but looked for people with clean records who were willing. I worked some plain clothes jobs at public events, but mostly in uniform, guarding, construction sites, banks, occasional cash transfers, hospitals, school and country club dances. Only occasionally did anything happen requiring security, more often hospital duty.
I was only in one serious scrape. In the late 1960s. I got an unusual call from dispatch asking me if I was free. Sensing something was up, I answered yes. He asked if I owned a shotgun, again I answered yes, a double barrel. He then asked what bore, I answered 16 Gauge. He said that might be a problem I would feel better, he said if it was a 10 or 12-guage. I was young, excited and wanted this job. I told him I had double ought buck shells, and that did the trick. He told me to wear my revolver, bring plenty of ammunition and a folding chair. The address was a supermarket in the west end of Louisville. When I arrived, across the street from the store, some houses were ablaze and others were being set afire, crowds of people were gathering, smoke was everywhere and sirens were sounding all over. I parked at the end of the store which fronted on a sidewalk, it was on West Market or Main Street. One of our men let me in, and told me he was glad I came since he was in the front, alone. There were double doors on each side of the store about 50 feet apart. The rest of the front was plate glass window. He set his chair near the left side doors and I set mine near the doors on the right.
Other stores up and down the street were being broken into and looted by gangs of men numbering from five or six to as many as twenty or more. Concrete blocks and rocks were being thrown through store fronts and people were carrying away new televisions, appliances, and other merchandise, but when they came to our store, we stood up and raised our shotguns. That was our orders, and we could use deadly force under Kentucky law, to protect our lives and property we were hired to guard. The rioters would come up, see us take aim, and leave for an easier target. Luckily, no shots were fired by anyone, and none of our store’s windows or doors were damaged. Sometime during our shift, the police fired tear gas at the rioters. We would occasionally get a whiff, but it did not affect us. One of our men was stationed at the rear service door, but I didn’t meet him. After five or six hours, of this pretty much non-stop action, our relief came, and we left. We were later given a phone call at home, and an “attaboy.”
(Next week, how I become a Detective and hear about Frank and Jesse James)