Mullendore - More than just a sheriff

June 16, 2009

Not since the days of "Blazing Saddles" and the Sheriff of Rock Ridge (more or less) have top law enforcement officers burned their own shoe leather in the name of fighting crime.

The job of sheriff in many jurisdictions has evolved into one of an administrator, working out budget and scheduling problems and overseeing operations at the county jail. Certainly there have been exceptions - West Virginia sheriffs have been notorious first-responders - but especially in larger jurisdictions, many have holsters filled with time cards and spreadsheets.

So it is with a tip of our Smokey Bear caps that we congratulate Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore, who earlier this month nabbed two men accused of robbing a bank earlier this month on Rench Road. Mullendore stopped an SUV that matched a description from the robbery scene, and called in the posse when his instincts told him the occupants were "trying to play it cool." Too cool.


Of course, Mullendore would tell you his actions were no different from what our rank-and-file county, city and state police officer do every day of the week, and he would be right about that.

But still, there certainly is value in a sheriff who keeps in close touch with life on the beat, knows what's going on and understands where resources are best allocated.

Most top law enforcement officials have come up through the ranks, and most probably get the itch for action from time to time. But sitting at a desk might be a tempting option as opposed to having to draw a gun and go after bandits who might be armed and whose state of mind is unknown.

Mullendore describes himself as "still a police officer" who spends a fair amount of time on the road. We would also describe him as a leader.

John D. Rockefeller wasn't known for getting out in the oil patch and capping wellheads. But probably everyone in the Washington County Sheriff's Department understands Mullendore won't ask anyone to do something that he isn't prepared to do himself.

One extra set of eyes on the road is good. But a department head who takes time from pencil pushing to perform valuable, and dangerous, fieldwork is even better.

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