By Greg Ritchie
HOUSTON COUNTY – Two new deputies have joined the Houston County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO). Kasey Ballard and Gordon Denman. In spite of appearances, the two have much in common. They both worked for the sheriff’s department in other roles, and they both graduated from the Angelina College Law Enforcement Program.
Ballard worked as a dispatcher for two year while Denmnan worked in the county jail for three years. Earlier this year, both decided they wanted to take the law enforcement courses at Angelina college, but this would have meant leaving their positions and being open for employment by other agencies.
In order to keep the two within Houston County, the HCSO asked the Commissioner’s Court to help them create a cadet program, since there were already open positions for deputies.
“The Commissioner’s Court agreed with the idea and now Houston County has a cadet program as long as there is a funded position. Candidates agree to a two year commitment to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office to be considered for approval to the program,” the sheriff’s office posted online.
Ballard is the first female to be hired specifically as a Patrol Deputy. She always knew she wanted to be in law enforcement.
“I always had an interest in law enforcement and wanting to be a cop. I worked here in dispatch for two and a half years and the time was just right for me to go to the academy,” Ballard explained.
Denman has worked a number of jobs over the years before becoming a jailer in Houston County. He says respect is always a key to communicating with people.
“I became a certified mental health officer while I was still a jailer,” Denman said. “I treat people like human beings and I talk to them and I try to help them out.”
Both deputies realize that some attitudes have changed toward law enforcement. They say their goal is to earn the trust of the public by showing that they generally want to help.
“We go through the situation, and we want people to know we are here to help,” Ballard said. “We really do care, and that’s why we work here.”
“Some people are going to hate us no matter what we do, because some are up to no good, and we are interrupting their business,” Denman noted. “How we deal with that, and how the public sees us deal with that is the most important. If we continue to handle things positively I think we can keep a positive attitude towards us here in Houston County.”
Since the two had already served in the Sheriff’s office, there are not seen as rookies. They have already put their local experience and knowledge to good use.
The two are happy to not be stuck in the office all day and enjoy being out in public interacting with Houston County residents.
Asked if there were any drawbacks after the first few weeks on the job Ballard points to her uniform, belt, vest, and all the other equipment
“The heat! These things are warm! But I would say I like the community interactions. That the people in this community genuinely do care.”
Denman also appreciates seeing locals show support for what they do.
“A family was walking by me the other day and one of the young girls thanked me for my service,” Denman explained. “It makes you feel good, and that’s one of the best things about the job is to make a positive influence.”
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]