CIRCLEVILLE — After more than 28 years on the job, Sgt. Gary Barrowman, of the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, has retired.
Barrowman started in 1993 in the corrections department before transferring to the communications department less than a year later in 1994. He then joined the road patrol in 2000 and was promoted to sergeant in 2004. Barrowman was also part of the Marine Patrol Unit and Vehicle Crash Reconstruction Unit.
Barrowman became a deputy while actually at college, where he was studying at Ohio State. He studied biology in a pre-med program.
“It was boy meets girl and then boy gets a job,” he said. “I had the plan to save up money and go to graduate school and then I blinked my eyes and 28 years later, we’re here. I never grew up wanting to do it, I just fell into it and I had a knack for it and stuck with it.”
Barrowman was a graduate of the Ohio University Chillicothe Police Academy as their first graduating class.
“I never had aspirations to do anything but road patrol or be anything higher than sergeant,” Barrowman said. “Once you go above sergeant, you’re in fiduciary employment and I didn’t have interest in that.”
Sheriff Matthew Hafey commemorated Barrowman with a retirement ceremony Friday afternoon.
“I’ve been working with Gary since I started in law enforcement,” Hafey said, presenting him with a plaque, commemorating his service.
“This is presented to you for 28 years, 200 days of dedicated, loyal and untiring service to the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Pickaway County with the utmost appreciation for all your years of dedicated service.”
Barrowman shared the story of when he met one of the new deputies.
“When she [a new deputy] got in the car, I went to introduce myself and she told me, ‘I know who you are you used to come and eat lunch with your daughters at school; I graduated with your oldest daughter,’” Barrowman said.
“I said then it was probably time for me to make myself available to another industry.”
Barrowman said with pending changes to the retirement system at the start of the year, he’d retire now and look for a second career. He’s not yet decided on if he’ll keep a reserve commission.
“I want to take the opportunity to do something else with my life,” he said. “A lot of times, when people retire from road patrol, they’ve had enough, but maybe I need a breather and revaluate.”
Barrowman said he’s heard so many “Gary” stories from his co-workers, all of whom have at least one and many of them aren’t ones they’ll share publicly.
“Everyone seems to have it because I’m an in-your-face guy,” he said. “Jim Phillips, over in the jail, is kind of rough and tough and I gave him a hug today and he said, ‘I remember when me and Gary started in the jail and we opened the dayroom door and said, 'time for a shakedown,' and that’s when toilets started flushing and people were running around.’ Everyone has a Gary story like that.”
Barrowman said he decided to stay on road patrol because that’s where he felt he could do the most good.
“A lot of the detective stuff is involving child crimes and I have two daughters and so I don’t have the heart for that so [patrol] is where I thought I can do the most good,” he said. “I didn’t have any aspirations to work in an office.”
Barrowman said in his 28 years, things changed drastically for road patrol deputies. Before, reports were taken by hand and then typed up by secretaries. Now, everything is done on computers.
“We’d write an accident report that was front to back and compared to now, had very little information. We’d hand write it and we’d draw on the backside our field sketch then we’d turn all that in together and a secretary would hand type what we wrote,” he said.
“That workload has been cut way down. Things have changed a lot.”
Barrowman said he thinks he will miss the variation in the days.
“Every hour is different and you never know what you’ll run into,” he said. “I like interacting with people and trying to help them however I can.”
Barrowman said he’ll likely seek another job, something with “less stress” and involving a cubicle.
“I’m ready to slow down,” he said. “My oldest daughter graduated from Kenyon College this spring and my youngest daughter is on her first semester at Ohio University in Athens. I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like.”
Barrowman did offer a couple pieces of advice for anyone considering becoming a road deputy.
“Stay positive and don’t let the job get you down,” he said. “It can make you tired.”
Barrowman said in all his years, he never wore his uniform home and that some people didn’t even know he was a deputy.
“The sheriff took me to lunch and the waitress looked at me funny and I asked her if she knew and she said she had no idea,” he said.
“It’s usually the last thing people know about me because I like to have my private life.”