Hobgood hangs up his belt

Published 10:56 am Wednesday, March 15, 2017

After working more than 30 years with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Capt. Howard Hobgood has retired.

Hobgood, 59, served as a deputy, investigator and lieutenant before being named captain of investigations.

“I think I’ll probably end up missing a lot of the ones that you work with,” Hobgood said. “I’ll miss working still for Sheriff (Thomas) Jones. He’s still there. He was a good man to work for.”

Hobgood first worked from 1977-1979 for then Sheriff Burrell Brown. He left to work for Armstrong Corp., a plant in Keysville, then re-joined the sheriff’s office after Jones was elected sheriff.

In 1996, Hobgood was named an investigator. He was named lieutenant in the early 2000s before he was named captain.

Hobgood retired March 1.

“(I) went back to work when Sheriff Thomas Jones was elected … I just went back to work for him … That’s what I liked. I enjoyed it and I missed it,” he said of re-joining the department.

He said it was the best job he’d ever had “because of who you had to work with. (I’ll) just miss the excitement of things,” Hobgood said. “Everyday was different. Some good, some bad. You take the good with the bad. And you get to meet a lot of people. You pretty much get to know most of the people in the county. They get to know you.”

When asked about a memorable experience, he noted vehicle pursuits.

“I think over the years when I just worked the roads, we had ended up getting in several pursuits,” Hobgood said. “I think in a year and a half one time we ended up in like six major pursuits. And you look back at them, you know how dangerous stuff like that could be, but back then, when you’re a whole lot younger it was just, I guess it just was excitement. Of course it was dangerous, too.”

Hobgood said he ended up in a pursuit once in Richmond. “And it was about three of us from the department here that ended up down next to Richmond … It was a felon that was fleeing … That’s something you’ll never forget.”

Hobgood said he enjoyed going to churches to speak and visiting with students in schools.

“I was a member of the tactical team and I can remember going to the school with the tactical team … Actually, we went to all the elementary schools and the middle school and high school and had talks and went in all the classrooms.

He specifically highlighted speaking to children who aspired to be law enforcement officers.

“When you go in and meet with the kids, they just look up and they say, ‘This is what I want to do. This is what I want to be,’ you know.”

There have been changes in the trade of being a cop over the past 30 years, Hobgood said.

“In recent years, within the last couple years, the attitudes toward police have changed,” he said. “Just like you see it on television a lot now. You see it in the news. I guess it’s … as far as back that far, it’s only a couple of us (who) were there that have been back that long. You see the volume of calls (has) increased and you’ve seen that with communications,” he said, noting the use of cell phones. “Everybody will call and make complaints on just anything now. They’ll call a lot more than they used to. A lot of the calls are much more serious.”

“A lot of people back then took care of a lot of their own problems. It’s different now,” Hobgood said.

When asked what advice he’d give to a young sheriff’s deputy, he highlighted service to the community.

“I’d tell them that they are there to serve the people. They are there to serve the public. It’s not an ego trip. You’ve got to remember why you’re there. You’re not going to become rich. You’ve just got to realize it’s law enforcement and you’re there to serve the people.”

As for retirement, Hobgood plans on staying in Charlotte County and doing some traveling.

“I’ve got some interests that I’ve been doing, working on,” he said.