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Sheriff David Duke celebrates 40 years in law enforcement

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 2022-06-15

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WICHITA FALLS ( KFDX/KJTL ) — This Friday, Wichita County Sheriff David Duke will celebrate his 40th year with the force, starting as a teenage jailer and rising to the top law officer of the county.

Imagine being shot at, almost being run over, or coming face to face with a cold-blooded killer you have to put in custody, any one of which is a frightening scenario, but for Wichita County Sheriff David Duke, those are just another day in the life of a sheriff.

“We worked everything from murders to drug labs to narcotics to fugitive apprehensions; you name it, we worked it,” Duke said. “So a lot of death, a lot of drugs, a lot of people that will never turn their lives around, you know a lot of humanity.”

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After first applying to become a firefighter in 1982, Duke said he switched to a job in the jail when he was just 18 years old.

“I started in the jail, and I weighed about 130 pounds on a good day and grew a mustache just to look a little older around all these big inmates, these guys that are really hardcore kind of guys, but like my father always told me how to treat people right,” Duke said.

After surviving his first two years in the jail, Duke got a new title and duties in the field, at an age that came with some handicaps for a law officer.

“I was 20 and a half years old, I was the county’s youngest deputy sheriff and couldn’t buy my own bullets, so that was kind of an interesting gun story,” Duke said.

Over four decades, you can imagine Duke has seen several changes in law enforcement and the sheriff’s office.

“You got to change with the times, you got to continue moving forward, and so I always like to learn the newest things, the laws, you have to keep up with these things,” Duke said. “There’s a whole lot more involved than just being a law enforcer. I don’t care if you’re just a slick-sleeved police officer or deputy sheriff, there’s a lot of stuff you have to do before you start trying to arrest people.”

With those changing times came a major change that Duke played a big role in.

“This county jail should’ve happened 25 years ago hands down,” Duke said. “Our two jails we had, I said it more than once in Commissioners Court, and the media has picked up on it before that, I said the Titanic was in better shape than our county jails were.”

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Duke said as he enters his fifth decade of service, his next big plan is to acquire body cameras for deputies as well as dash cams for all their vehicles.

Duke was elected sheriff in 2008, becoming the first Republican sheriff after the longest-running sheriff who served for 22 years, Tom Callahan, retired.

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