Back in the saddle again

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2005

GATESVILLE – Frank Herrigan, a Corapeake resident, has retired, retired and retired again.

But don’t expect him to stay that way.

Now, Herrigan has big plans, but they do not include a rocking chair, traveling or fishing. He’s going back to work, this time as a volunteer for the community he’s adopted as his permanent home.

He said he first made contact with Gates County back in the 1940’s when a friend would bring him fishing at a millpond on Silvertown Road and Route 32. He loved the area and when he and his wife, Ilona, began looking for homes, it was here they chose.

&uot;Our children were grown and we wanted to scale down,&uot; said Herrigan. &uot;We had this one last place to look at and when we pulled into the drive on Daniels Road, my wife said she liked it and we bought it that day.&uot;

Nowadays, Herrigan, a robust 69-year old, decided that he wanted nothing to do with retirement. He dedicated and educated himself to, once again, another profession.

&uot;I was in the Marine Corps where I served as an MP (military police) and I guess it was only natural that I returned to law enforcement,&uot; said Herrigan. &uot;After I left the Marines, I had quite a few businesses, including my own photography studio and a charter bus service, but I worked a few years and then changed again. I guess law enforcement is my favorite vocation.&uot;

Herrigan, who came from Virginia Beach to Gates County a few years ago, contacted Gates County Sheriff Edward Webb to find out how he could be of volunteer service in the community. The sheriff advised that he would be perfect for a position in the Gatesville courtroom.

&uot;Sheriff Webb told me I would make a good court bailiff,&uot; said Herrigan. &uot;I went to the full-time, eight week detention officer training at Halifax Community College. I learned about state code and how it is applicable to the treatment and incarceration of prisoners and I also had first aid training. I am now certified by the state of North Carolina to work as a detention officer in the courtroom.&uot;

As a court bailiff, Herrigan spent his first six months in the courtroom, basically observing the deputies who also serve in the courtroom, including Chief Deputy Billy Spruill.

&uot;I was never on my own, but instead had a lot of good leadership and guidance,&uot; said Herrigan. &uot;It’s been extremely interesting and it seems there’s never a dull moment. You must be on your toes at all times.&uot;

He continued, &uot;Gone are the days when people respected officers of the law and you have to be observant. The biggest change I’ve seen over the years is the attire and demeanor of those appearing before the judge. I have seen it go from &uot;church&uot; attire in the courts to sloppy, baggy pants and shorts… that’s indicative of a lack of respect for authority.&uot;

As a former Marine, Herrigan believes in staying physically fit. He works out with deputies half his age.

&uot;I use my Bowflex machine (at home) and some of the deputies and the chief came over and we all workout,&uot; said Herrigan. &uot;We also work on our marksmanship skills. I shot on the Marine Corp rifle and pistol team and we keep our skills up by target shooting. Plus, I also still enjoy my photography.&uot;

Although his main focus is volunteering for court duty, Herrigan is also serving in another volunteer position for the sheriff. He is the sheriff’s liaison to the people of Gates County who want to establish &uot;Neighborhood Watch&uot; groups.

Sheriff Webb has been working for some time on setting up such groups across the county but with limited manpower, educating the public in how to prevent crime in their neighborhoods has been a long time coming.

&uot;The county needs Neighborhood Watch groups and the ones we have are proof that they work,&uot; said Herrigan. &uot;There are a lot of robberies and break-ins and they are not random acts. The sheriff’s office definitely needs help from the community since they only have a handful of deputies on duty at any given time.&uot;

As a volunteer, Herrigan plans to devote himself to serving as the coordinator for the crime watch programs. He is willing to make appointments to educate church groups, civic clubs and neighborhood groups about the Neighborhood Watch program.

&uot;If they will call the sheriff to make an appointment, I will be there with plenty of literature and other materials they will need for the program,&uot; said Herrigan. &uot;I can help them get started and, also, I can help get the signs for their neighborhoods, yards, cars and windows.&uot;

Herrigan added that the watch groups are extremely important in today’s mobile society.

&uot;We used to know generations of people who lived in a particular home,&uot; he said. &uot;Now, with so many people new to the county, it’s hard to know who should be at a particular home in the neighborhood and who may be there for some unscrupulous reason. With the Neighborhood Watch in place, you get to know who is who and it makes it much easier to report illegal activity to the sheriff’s office. We all need to care about our neighbors and look out for each other.&uot;

Herrigan said he looks forward to meeting with those interested in forming Neighborhood Watches. Appointments are available by calling the sheriff’s office at 357-0210.