BUTLER COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Kenny Harden said the driving force behind his desire to be sheriff was to serve the people.
“I knew it was something I wanted to do," said 62-year-old Harden, the Butler County sheriff.
Harden started his career as a reserved deputy in Lowndes County in 1978 and never looked back. The stops along the way included time with Greenville police and then settled in for the long haul with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office in 1995. 11 years later, Harden was elected sheriff, the first of three terms, something he’s quite proud of.
“Since 1837 there’d only been four sheriffs elected to three terms or more and I am among the four," said Harden.
There is one investigation Harden calls his signature moment; the case involving a double-murder in another county but it was Harden who broke it open.
“We arrested three people in that one," he said.
Three years ago, Butler County was named the safest county in the state. There’ve been challenging days, and then those moments that made it all worthwhile such as the story of a 7-year-old girl.
“It was a child abuse case. She grabbed my leg and thanked me for helping her," Harden said.
Adding more deputies is another proud moment and increasing their starting pay. A new $6 million jail was also built on his watch. During sheriff Harden’s three terms as the county’s top law enforcement officer, he lost one deputy in the line of duty, but he died of a heart attack.
Harden didn’t pull any punches about the primary challenge his successor faces.
“Filling my shoes. That’s gonna be hard for him, I would think. I think I am the only sheriff who gave his cell phone number to the public and the home number is listed in the book," he said.
And Harden’s advice for the new man?
“Just be honest with the people,” he said.
Greenville Police Capt. Danny Bond will be sworn in Monday morning.
As for the future, the sheriff said he hasn’t ruled out another run. Until then, he intends to spend time with his family.
No regrets, no wondering what could’ve been had the election turned in his favor. Kenny Harden had the dream of being the high sheriff and lived it.