On Patrol with Bob Goodwin: Washington County Sheriff's Office, Spring 1979
"It's our job to protect the morals of our county..."

I first met Deputy 9296 Robert “Bob” Goodwin when I started as a Dispatcher for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at Blair, Nebraska. Professionally, Bob was a straight forward sort of guy. He had a very dry sense of humor, and could be somewhat of a practical joker.

During and after my time with the Sheriff’s Office at Blair, I worked with or around Bob during other periods of my career. While I was Chief of Police at Arlington, Bob owned and operated the local café, and also served on the Arlington City Council. While I worked with the Valley Police Department, Bob worked as a Security Officer at Valmont Industries near Valley. I visited with Bob as recently as 2013.

After I was promoted to being a full time Dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Office, the decision was made that all the dispatchers should ride along with the Deputies in order to learn more about the layout of the county, and to learn a bit about how and why certain things are done while the deputies are on patrol. While I road with all of the deputies, I rode with Bob most often, as our work schedules allowed this match up most often. I would complete my shift in the radio room at 11:00 PM, when Bob would be beginning his patrol shift at the same time.

Riding with Bob could always be best described as educational. If the shit was going to hit the fan, it would typically occur on Bob’s shift. Whatever we came across was typically framed within the context of Bob’s sense of humor, and was occasionally punctuated with one of his practical jokes.

Riding with Bob, I found we would run into the full range of Law Enforcement Issues. We responded to alarm calls; we made traffic stops, arrested and processed drink drivers, investigated car accidents, dealt with various disturbances, and investigated suspicious activities.

While Washington County was predominantly rural, the southeast corner of the county boarded with the Missouri River on the east, and Douglas County, with a somewhat seedy part of Omaha to its south. The area was heavily wooded, and known as The River Road area. We’d come across abandoned stolen vehicles which would usually be found burning, fully engulfed in flames, as well as many other suspicious activities. Work in this area was normally done with a high degree of caution. Patrolling most other areas of the county was fairly pastoral and serene.

One full moon evening during the spring of 1979, I was with Bob while we’re traveling down a gravel county road. It was clear that evening, and with the brightness of the moon, one could see quite a ways. We’re driving past a pasture filled with cattle when suddenly, Bob slams on the brakes, sliding to a halt on the dirt road, throws the patrol car into reverse, and starts backing up..! Like the dumb rooky I was, I hadn’t seen anything untoward, so I’m babbling, “What? What? What’s going on? What is it?

Bob slams on the breaks again, rolls down his window while turning on the spotlight on a steer in the pasture which has mounted up on the back of a cow…

HEY!” The steer and cow look in our direction, “HEY YOU! YES, I’M TALKING TO YOU! KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF!!!

The steer gets off the cow and they each slowly walk off in opposite directions…

Bob looks at me with a straight face and says, “It’s our job to protect the morals of our county…” and we resume our patrol.

I just simply shook my head in amazement.

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