Everyday Heroes - June 2017
Jessamine County Chief Deputy Allen Peel
When Jessamine County native Allen “Doodle” Peel graduated high school in 1978, he quickly realized he was like a ship without a rudder to guide himself. So Peel spent the next 10 years trying to figure out what he wanted to do in life. That decade featured a series of dead-end jobs and even a short period of time farming. However, in September 1988 — when a former Jessamine County Sheriff called — the man known locally as Doodle, now 57, found his calling. Some 28 years later, Peel continues to serve the community he loves, most recently in his role as chief deputy. During his time with the Jessamine County Sheriff’s Office, Peel pretty much has done it all, from serving papers and conducting traffic stops to murder investigations and arresting ‘Elvis.’
(Laughing) My mom nicknamed me Doodle when I was a baby, and it stuck. Nobody calls me Allen around here – it’s Doodle. She told me the story one time. She said she saw me laying there and I looked like a little doodle bug doodling around, and boy did it stick.
I was 28 and I worked different jobs, I farmed some, and I worked in a few factories. However, I really didn’t have a career at the time. Then Steve Walker called, and [law enforcement] turned into one. He needed deputies; a few guys left, and he needed manpower at the time. He called me and asked if I’d be interested, and I said, ‘I’ll think about it.’ That was 28 years ago.
Back then, we learned on the job. In early deputies’ trainings, there was a sheriffs academy at Western Kentucky University. I graduated from there in 1991. Of course, ever since mandated training, we go to DOCJT.
I was a typical road deputy. I served papers, answered calls and worked nights when I first started. When I started, we had two cruisers and four deputies. Now we have 32 sworn deputies and 29 vehicles in our fleet, so we’ve grown by leaps and bounds.
Technology has changed the job a lot. The LeadsOnline program has allowed us to recover property that has been stolen. We have recovered property that people didn’t realize was stolen from them. It’s been a huge help. It has helped us track down a number (of incidents) that we couldn’t imagine. It’s an online website, and it allows us to check names of suspects and thefts, and items that were taken. Not all counties participate, but we’re trying to get a statewide law where all pawn shops have to participate (in the program) and it recently passed the House Standing Committee on Judiciary.
When someone you’ve arrested comes up to you at Wal-Mart, thanks you and shakes your hand, you know you did your job in a way people understand — that is a great feeling.
— Chief Deputy Allen Peel
I enjoy helping the public. My best days are knowing that I helped someone and they’re satisfied with how I did my job. That means a lot. When someone you’ve arrested comes up to you at Wal-Mart, thanks you and shakes your hand, you know you did your job in a way that people understand — that is a great feeling.
My worst day? I remember it was a clear, sunny day (November 2001). I was transporting prisoners when the call came out that there were shots fired. Deputy (current sheriff) Kevin Corman and another deputy ran out of the courthouse, and I said, ‘What’s going on?’ and they said there was a shootout on River Road. The jail deputies came to the courthouse to take the prisoners, and I went down to River Road. That was the most mind-numbing day I can remember. That was the day Capt. Chuck Morgan and Deputy Billy Ray Walls were shot and killed and Deputy Sammy Brown was wounded. They were serving a warrant. You would not consider it a high-risk warrant; it was a terroristic-threatening warrant.
I remember once, about 25 years ago, I was at a murder scene about five minutes before it happened. I turned and went by a store, and a man was putting air in his tires. There was an older man in the front yard of a house that sat behind the store, but there was nothing going on. I was on an alarm-drop call, and I went to the store and checked all the doors and windows and everything was fine. I left and, a few minutes later, then-Sheriff Joe Walker called me and said I needed to get back down to the store because there had been a shooting.
When I got back there, the man who was putting air in his tires was laying there; he had been shot in the head. They said the elderly man shot him and took off in his pickup. EMS already was there with the other man, and I took off after the man in the truck. One of our deputies, Lowell Conley, was coming from town and pulled the guy over, and I pulled in behind Conley. We walked up to the truck and the man had a .357 in the front seat, and we arrested him. The man was 78 and had dementia. He died before he went to trial. I think he had it in his mind that the other guy had laid some phone books on his front porch, and he got mad about that and went over and shot the guy. He died in jail, and no trial took place. It was a senseless murder.
I’ve had some interesting arrests, too. One of them made the World’s Dumbest Criminals. (An Elvis impersonator) came to court and Deputy Gerald Wheeler and I arrested ‘Elvis’ in district court. Elvis said to me, ‘Please keep my cape for me.’ He said it was a very expensive cape, and I said, ‘I will; I’ll watch it for you, Elvis.’ He came to court under the influence in 2008. That made national news.
There are some things of the job I would miss, and, of course, there are some things that I wouldn’t miss. Retirement is the great unknown, and I’m not ready to test it yet. I hope when that time comes, people will remember me as honest and trustworthy, that I always tried to do what was right and helped the residents when they needed help.