The words “police” or “cops” often bring to mind the image of city law enforcement officers brandishing guns, talking tough, and arresting suspects. Away from the city the picture changes, county sheriffs and their deputies operate differently. Nick Giles is the sheriff of Taylor County, a rural county slightly southwest of Macon. He likes to handle problems by talking to people and helping them. On the telephone he explains how he can help a woman get her money back from a Christmas loan she made. His procedure involves first talking to the man and then his work supervisor to get the money. He tells the woman the man’s paycheck can be garnished as a last resort. On the road, Sheriff Giles encounters an abandoned car with an expired tag. When the owner shows up, he does not give him a ticket, but tells him he can reclaim his car when he brings in a paid receipt for a renewed license tag. On a final call of the day, the sheriff stops at Jarrell’s Grocery where the 80 year-old owner describes speeding cars playing loud music on the road in front of the store at night. The sheriff will get his deputies to patrol the area and see if the speeders can be stopped. The sheriff does not wear a gun and in spite of his easy going ways, he gets mad if he sees a child being neglected and gets tough with the parents. There have been crimes committed in Taylor County: burglary, stolen cars, bad checks, and even an occasional rape or murder. However, Giles believes that treating people courteously and giving them a chance is the key to helping him keep order in the county.
Teacher tip: Ask students to write a paragraph describing why Sheriff Giles’ methods for keeping law and order in Taylor County work. What character traits does Sheriff Giles exhibit as he goes about his duties?