MADISON — In just nine more working days, Bradley Goodwin will retire from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, where he has served 10 of nearly 25 years as a Circuit Court Bailiff.
“I have to say that there has been more good than bad, just like any career path you take,” Goodwin said. “There are things I’ve seen I’d like to forget, but there are more good folks I’ve met that I’ll remember.”
Goodwin, 64, graduated from the since-consolidated Sharples High School in 1973. He and his wife Joyce married in 1978 and had three daughters in Melinda, Melissa and Hollie — all Scott High graduates like their mother.
“All three of them work in the medical field and all three excelled in academics and made us real proud of them,” Goodwin said. “I credit their mother for all of the time she spent with them while I was working. She did an amazing job and I appreciate it.”
Goodwin began his career in law enforcement on May 1, 1994, at the age of 38. He had worked as a coal miner and briefly for the Boone County Assessor’s Office before making a career change.
“I actually saw a classified ad in the Coal Valley News,” he said. “It was something that had always interested me and I can remember when I was taking my civil service test I looked around the room at all of these young guys right out of high school and there I was.”
He graduated from the police academy in April of 1995 and began work as a road deputy.
“I started my career on the night shift,” he said. “I liked it immediately. On the night shift, you deal strictly with law enforcement. Many times, when someone calls with a complaint, they just want someone to listen to them and I’ve always done my best to lend an ear and listen.”
He spent much of his career patrolling the Big Coal River area of Boone County.
“I covered Ridgeview to Whitesville and all points in between,” he said, laughing. “I met a lot of really good people on Big Coal and of course, you meet folks on the opposite end of that, too.”
Goodwin said accidents involving fatalities and responding to suicides are what he considers the hardest part of his job — and these were challenges he took seriously.
“Sometimes, the most important thing you can do lies in your communication with the loved ones left behind, and I’ve just tried to respect everyone and return the respect that someone shows me,” he said. “If I have to arrest you, if you show me respect you’ll get it right back.”
He remembers a period in time when the Sheriff’s Office was shorthanded and he had to work some shifts at night and cover the entire county at night alone, from Whitesville to Wharton.
“I remember that time well because it seemed like every wreck I was responding to during that period, someone was killed,” he said. “It was just a very strange thing. I can remember having a conversation with a boy with the Racine Fire Department about it at the time. We just had a long string of fatalities in car accidents. That stuff is just hard to forget.”
He said that patrolling at night was either very eventful or very quiet, with nothing in between.
“You are either running your guts out to keep up, or you are catching up on paperwork,” he said.
He remembers one specific accident that he calls the worst he’s ever seen. The deputy said that being a first responder never gets easier.
“It was actually a slow night and there were several of us out and I was doing some grand jury reports. We got a call about a wreck and I left the office and a couple other guys were on their way,” he said. “The car had hit a tree and caught fire. A man and a woman died that night and they had identified that she had a kid and thought the baby was in the car but luckily, it wasn’t. It was the worst wreck I’ve seen.”
He remembers responding to an accident where a man fell asleep and drove his car under a logging truck.
“He didn’t have a mark on him, but he died,” he said.
Goodwin said he has had to handcuff people he knows on multiple occasions and that he focused on his work and the responsibility that he has to protect and serve.
“Sometimes people can be helped and sometimes they can’t,” he said. “I try to treat people with respect until they don’t deserve my respect.”
He said it was some advice given to him by current Sheriff Randall White that as stuck with him through the years.
“He told me that you are going to be dealing with a small portion of the population of the county and that you are going to get to know the families — the nieces, nephews, sons, daughters and grandchildren — because most often, but not always, your offenders come from those families. Then, after working as a bailiff, I see kids coming through the courts where I have arrested their parents or grandparents in the past for the same things. Kids usually repeat what they see. Sometimes, you’ll see a child break away from it and move away from here just to escape the ways of the family. They live a normal life and find their own way. Those are the good stories.”
Goodwin was shot in the line of duty in 2001 when he caught some buckshot from a shotgun blast on Lake Branch Road near the Logan County line.
“This guy had been pulled over in Logan County and was let go and he was bugged out on drugs and alcohol,” Goodwin said. “Later, one of our guys got into a chase with the guy and he shot up Lake Branch Road and he barricaded himself in a house and took shots at us and was threatening to burn the house to the ground. It was a cold night and it was snowing. It was me and Phillip Beam, John Workman from the Madison Police Department, Eddy Arthur and a State Trooper. Arthur and the trooper were on one side of the house and me and Workman and Beam on the other side. He had a whole bunch of guns in there. We were perched in a sink hole 25 yards from the house and it was dark. I still have a couple pellets in my shoulder and a couple in my arm. I didn’t know I got shot until I saw a little bit of blood.”
He said that he attends every parole hearing for the man and will continue to do so.
“I don’t want anyone else to have to have deal with him,” he said.
Goodwin said that, sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is crucial. A man had called 911 and told them that he was about to hang himself and dispatch called him and he happened to be near the address on Big Coal. The man had busted out the ceiling tile of a mobile home, threw a rope over a joist or support beam and was hanging when Goodwin walked into the home.
“I just took out my pocket knife and cut him down,” he said. “That was one life that I guess I can say that I saved. I hope that he worked out his problems and is doing well today. You just never know.”
Goodwin said that working with Boone County Circuit Judge William Thompson and Circuit Clerk Sue Ann Zickefoose has been a good experience.
“Judge Thompson is a good man and I believe that he does what he believes is right,” he said. “From the side of law enforcement, I may not always agree with the sentence but I respect him.”
He said that Randall White is the best of the three Sheriffs that he worked under.
“Randall is a straight shooter,” he said. “He’s never lied to me and never broke a promise and that goes a long way with me.”
Boone County Circuit Court will host a party for Goodwin at noon on Dec. 13, his last day on the job.