Their jobs are to protect people and property.
No matter what you think about law enforcement, an officer’s day doesn’t always end on a good note, but as you’re about to see sometimes their careers do.
He’s driven the roads of Minnehaha County for 26 years, but Patrol Sergeant Preston Evans has never been down this road before.
“Every one of these houses there’s a memory,” Evans said.
Evans is retiring.
He moved here from Cleveland, Ohio and joined the department fresh out of college.
Evans has the distinction of being the county’s very first School Resource Officer when the program first started.
“Most people can go through a lifetime and never figure out what it is they are supposed to do, I found mine on the first day,” Evans said. “The one big thing that drives me is that I was in a position where I could make a difference.”
And that he did.
“The biggest one I can give you that sticks out is uh, uh, ….Josh Phillips.”
Josh Phillips was a young student at West Central where he liked to play baseball or football once he was old enough to put on the pads.
The whole time Phillips was growing up and going to school, Evans was the school’s Resource Officer.
“We show up at the first day of school and he’s there and it was instant it was just like a long lost friend you hadn’t seen in years,” Phillips said.
Phillips says Evans was much more than a deputy on duty.
“You always think of law enforcement as arresting the bad guys and that’s what they did, but he kind of changed that for the community of Hartford and Minnehaha County,
he’d go play basketball with you, go to PE class, show up in art just do all these different things,” Phillips said.
He says Evans made time for everyone, no matter who you were, what you did or your social status.
“Stop and talk to the farmers, and the gas station clerks,” Phillips said.
“I can remember spending my shifts in combines with farmers, while they were combining, just building relationships,” Evans said.
Little did he know at the time, they were relationships that would last a lifetime.
“I always thought that was pretty special for somebody who is not from here, to come into a town and instantly change the perception of law enforcement maybe what we thought of law enforcement it changed the career paths for a lot of us,” Phillips said.
Changed uniforms too. Phillips went from wearing this to this. Because he looked up to Evans so much, after graduating from college, Phillips went on to join the sheriff’s office too and now holds the same rank as his mentor, friend and now co-worker.
Phillips says to this day he still aspires to be like Evans. He says just because you wear a uniform, badge and carry a gun, doesn’t mean you can’t show people you’re human too.
“I try to do that every day, it’s an honor to know him and he’s a good man,” Phillips said.
A man who has paved the way for others to follow.
“It’s been a very good ride, I just can’t put it into words,” Evans said.
You don’t have to sir, because tonight, you have the right to remain silent while an entire community speaks volumes on your behalf and thanks you for your service.
“He’s changed the whole community, he’s from Ohio, the Cleveland area, but his hometown is here,” Phillips said.
Evans officially retires on Thursday. He has no immediate plans other than to fish and hunt.