Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Rewarding Career for a Retired Sheriff

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Rewarding Career for a Retired Sheriff

Article excerpt

MANATEE COUNTY

Usually, if Charlie Wells sees a law officer conducting a routine traffic stop, he will park off in the distance and wait inconspicuously until he knows the officer is safe.

"I think most retired cops do that," Wells says. "It's just their nature. That's what you did all of your life and you just don't drop it and walk away from it."

It's been nearly eight years since Wells retired as Manatee County Sheriff. He is 70 years old now, lives quietly on seven acres of riverfront property in Parrish with his wife, Leslie, and his 100- pound bulldog Banjo, and says he is enjoying retirement in good health.

"I love being out of the limelight," he says. "I'm like a ghost"

Wells, once a meat cutter at Publix, started his law enforcement career in 1966 with the Florida Highway Patrol making $475 a month. He was elected Manatee County Sheriff in 1984, and eventually became the most powerful and politically connected figure in the county.

He wore cowboy boots, smoked cigars, and loved it when people call him "Charlie" instead of "Sheriff" because it made him more approachable. He stopped one year short of serving six four-year terms and his entire law enforcement career spanned 41 years.

"I had a good life and I had a great career," he says. "I'm very grateful I was able to do that kind of work. It's a very rewarding job in many ways."

Wells is in the process of starting a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that would financially help the families of officers who have been killed in the line of duty. He hopes to have the paperwork completed soon so fundraising can begin. It is something he is passionate about and has taken a strong interest in since he retired.

"During my career, I actually was at the scene of three different police officers killed in line of duty," Wells says. "I went to their funerals and knew two extremely well and I'll never forget it.

"I can still see the families. I still visualize the hurt and pain they went through. …

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