It has occurred to me that even if I do not resemble the Energizer Bunny, I could well be this creature. After all, I have been continually in law enforcement since the 1950s when I began my career as an auxiliary in Arlington, Va. Actually, before putting on a uniform, I trained as a fingerprint classifier in 1942.
While teaching high school in the '50s, I rode with certified police at night, and it was then that I got hooked on law enforcement. My interest has continued until today when I might qualify as one of the oldest certified deputy sheriffs in Georgia.
Born in Penna, I grew up reading about J. Edgar Hoover and his G-Men. I admired the efficiency and honesty of FBI employees. I enjoyed hearing stories of their crime fighting protection of civil rights and fight against terrorists. It impressed me that special agents were disciplined like U.S. Marines and were respected in the law enforcement community. I wanted to join their ranks.
The FBI had its real beginning in 1924, the year I was born, when Attorney General Harlan Stone offered J. Edgar Hoover the job as director. Mr. Hoover agreed to accept the position provided the FBI was divorced from politics and appointments as agents would be made on merit. Promotions were to be given on proven ability. Attorney General Stone agreed.
Mr. Hoover became director, got rid of political hacks and deadwood and rebuilt the FBI into the finest law enforcement agency in the world. As a child, I wanted to be a part of such an organization. I knew the road wasn't easy.
In the late '20s and '30s and '40s, I prepared myself and continued my education. I read about the powerful gangsters being investigated by the FBI. Alphonse Capone, Louis Buchalter, Martin Durken, Machine Gun Kelly and John Dillinger. Their stories intrigued me.
Along came Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor and 1942 graduation from high school. I was too young and lacked a college education necessary to be a special agent. I was accepted at the FBI as a fingerprint classifier and went to their school in Washington, D.C.
America was at war and I had been classified as 1-A. I volunteered for the U.S. Army and went off to fight for my country in Italy, France and Germany, returning home with two Bronze Stars.
Using the GI Bill, I obtained two college degrees and worked as a teacher for five years before the "one for all and all for one" spirit within the FBI caught up with me again.
Finally in 1955 I reapplied as a special agent, passed the tests, met the physical requirements and submitted to interviews to return to the bureau in the job I always dreamed of.
At my swearing-in, my childhood hero, J. Edgar Hoover, shook my hand telling me, "Simpson, you not only have to be right, you have to look right."
I have always remembered these words as I moved on to new challenges after retirement from 23 years as a special agent.
Since 1978 I have continued serving as a deputy sheriff in Rockdale and Newton counties. I am still certified in the state of Georgia.
The old rocking chair has had no interest for me nor has a life outside my chosen profession. Continued service has proved interesting, exciting and challenging. It is nice to be in a job with a sense of family and an esprit de corps. I like being part of a team of men and women dedicated to protecting and serving the community.
Maybe I'm not the Energizer Bunny, but I am among persons of action who seldom find it easy to make a graceful exit into retirement.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.