Butler County Sheriff Cleans Out Desk, Heads Into Retirement

Packing up and moving on. Diane Harris is in her last days as the high sheriff in Butler County.

"Sad time yet it's a good time in life because I'll be able to rest," said Sheriff Harris.

Rest after 12 years in office, 32 years in all in law enforcement. Harris is a little bit tough cop and a touch of Mayberry but one who always carried a gun and of course more than one bullet.

But the 56-year old Harris couldn't dodge the bullet of defeat when she lost her bid for a 4th term last November, lost by just 68 votes to her former chief deputy Kenny Harden.

"When one door closes, another one opens," said Harris.

Harris was the only female sheriff in the state when she was elected in 1994. Her best day on the job?

"The day I was sworn in on January 13, 1995. My mother was with me and handed me by first badge," said Harris.

And the sheriff remembers her darkest hour.

"It's when I lost my mother.. the same year," Harris said.

Through the years, the sheriff had her ups and downs. During her tenure, several people escaped from the county jail. All were recaptured except one; a burglary suspect.

Sheriff Harris even fired a jailer this week, and she leaves office with one unsolved murder. But 6 years ago trouble found the sheriff herself. She paid a $2,000 fine for what the state Ethics Commission said were two minor violations.

"Any time something went wrong in the sheriff's office I would be the first to admit it."

Reporter: What do you want your legacy to be?

"That I put everything on hold for the people of Butler County and that I did my best," said Harris.

As Sheriff Harris winds up a career she will spend time winding down at home, and she'll be at home when midnight rolls around Saturday night.

"I will be awake and breathe a sigh of relief," said Harris.

That's the hour Sheriff Diane Harris becomes private citizen Diane Harris for the first time in 32 years.

Harris was the first female sheriff in Butler County but not the first in Alabama. That distinction belonged to Mrs. W. A. Austin in Elmore County in 1939.

Sheriff Harris says for now she plans to just 'chill out' at home, visit family and friends. She hasn't ruled out the thought of running for office again.