Patrol with Bob Goodwin: Washington
County Sheriff's Office, Spring 1979
"It's our job to protect the morals of our county..."
met Deputy 9296 Robert “Bob” Goodwin when I started
as a Dispatcher for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office
at Blair, Nebraska. Professionally, Bob was a straight forward sort
of guy. He had a very dry sense of humor, and could be somewhat
of a practical joker.
and after my time with the Sheriff’s Office at Blair, I worked
with or around Bob during other periods of my career. While I was
Chief of Police at Arlington, Bob owned and operated the local café,
and also served on the Arlington City Council. While I worked with
the Valley Police Department, Bob worked as a Security Officer at
Valmont Industries near Valley. I visited with Bob as recently as
I was promoted to being a full time Dispatcher for the Sheriff’s
Office, the decision was made that all the dispatchers should ride
along with the Deputies in order to learn more about the layout
of the county, and to learn a bit about how and why certain things
are done while the deputies are on patrol. While I road with all
of the deputies, I rode with Bob most often, as our work schedules
allowed this match up most often. I would complete my shift in the
radio room at 11:00 PM, when Bob would be beginning his patrol shift
at the same time.
with Bob could always be best described as educational. If the shit
was going to hit the fan, it would typically occur on Bob’s
shift. Whatever we came across was typically framed within the context
of Bob’s sense of humor, and was occasionally punctuated with
one of his practical jokes.
with Bob, I found we would run into the full range of Law Enforcement
Issues. We responded to alarm calls; we made traffic stops, arrested
and processed drink drivers, investigated car accidents, dealt with
various disturbances, and investigated suspicious activities.
Washington County was predominantly rural, the southeast corner
of the county boarded with the Missouri River on the east, and Douglas
County, with a somewhat seedy part of Omaha to its south. The area
was heavily wooded, and known as The River Road area. We’d
come across abandoned stolen vehicles which would usually be found
burning, fully engulfed in flames, as well as many other suspicious
activities. Work in this area was normally done with a high degree
of caution. Patrolling most other areas of the county was fairly
pastoral and serene.
full moon evening during the spring of 1979, I was with Bob while
we’re traveling down a gravel county road. It was clear that
evening, and with the brightness of the moon, one could see quite
a ways. We’re driving past a pasture filled with cattle when
suddenly, Bob slams on the brakes, sliding to a halt on the dirt
road, throws the patrol car into reverse, and starts backing up..!
Like the dumb rooky I was, I hadn’t seen anything untoward,
so I’m babbling, “What? What? What’s going
on? What is it?”
slams on the breaks again, rolls down his window while turning on
the spotlight on a steer in the pasture which has mounted up on
the back of a cow…
The steer and cow look in our direction, “HEY YOU! YES,
I’M TALKING TO YOU! KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF!!!”
steer gets off the cow and they each slowly walk off in opposite
looks at me with a straight face and says, “It’s
our job to protect the morals of our county…” and
we resume our patrol.
simply shook my head in amazement.
Purple Sage Law Enforcement