"We are the protectors of our communities and we must always put service ahead of self; anything less is unacceptable," says retiring Solano County Sheriff/Coroner Gary Stanton.
Words like those have guided his four-decade law enforcement career.
Hired November 1, 1972, Stanton will clock out for the last time on October 31, exactly 40-years later.
The Solano County native and Dixon resident has climbed the rungs of the professional ladder from entry level to the top, holding titles from Deputy, to Sergeant, Lieutenant, Chief Deputy, Assistant Sheriff, Undersheriff, to The Sheriff.
As he began his career, being in an elected position was not on his mind, "My goal was to prove that I could learn to do the job. I thought that I would be fortunate to be able to make it through the probationary period."
He did much more than that.
Stanton admits he didn't mean to serve 40-years. After being appointed as Sheriff in 2001, he decided to run for the position in 2003, was elected, and then re-elected in 2007 and 2011.
"I forgot I was supposed to retire in 2003," he says. "My intention was to support Sheriff Rick Hulse as his Undersheriff until I achieved retirement age; Sheriff Hulse decided to retire earlier than I had anticipated."
"He was an excellent leader and will be missed," says Sergeant Ray Dudley, 24-year department veteran. "His list of accomplishments are too long to list. Sheriff Stanton brought this department to a level of standard it had never reached before."
Among his list of accomplishments, Stanton is credited for the creation of the COPPS program (Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving), the Narcotics Team, K-9 Units, and the Jail Realignment compliance standards during his 11 years as Sheriff.
The Stanton family are no strangers to the lifestyle of an officer, spending a combined 100-years serving Solano County Sheriffs between Gary, his father and his uncle.
"My wife Claudia is eager for me to retire," he says. "During our 34-years of marriage I have been away from home for many days at a time pursuing my career. This position requires 24/7 attention, I enjoy being busy, I will need to learn to relax."
"I do not know exactly what is next for me, but doing nothing is not on the menu," Stanton hopes to spend more time with his wife, use the motor home more, and improve his "rather high golf handicap."
He says, "After a brief rest I will probably work part-time as an independent consultant, just enough to keep me current with law enforcement," but says at this point in his life, he'd prefer to make politics a spectator sport.
The Sheriff leaves these words for those who succeed him:
"For those in the profession of law enforcement and for those entering the profession, integrity is paramount. Candidly, there is nothing safe about the profession. Good training, confidence, situational awareness and a well-developed instinct are the deciding factors."
To read more on Stanton's career memories, following in his families footsteps, hard lessons learned, changes in the profession over four decades, plans after retirement, and his sentiments for new officers, click here for the full text interview.
Do you have any memories of Stanton as Sheriff?