She drove a school bus for six years, worked in a chiropractor’s office, for a veterinarian and for an eye doctor. And reared three kids. Finally, at the age of 37, she found her calling and today, 17 years later, she is Detective Sharon Baird of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO).
Her “beat” – she is in the Criminal Investigation Division where her focus is on family-oriented crimes against the elderly (neglect and financial abuse), child neglect and sexual abuse of children, as well as sex crimes across the board, and domestic violence. Handling these types of crimes was always her goal.
“I love this because I can work the cases all the way to the end where there is an outcome,” she said. “That doesn’t happen when you are on patrol. And the elderly, the children, the women caught up in domestic abuse – they are our most vulnerable victims and it’s special to work their cases.”
Baird is no stranger to the life of a cop. Her husband is Therman, who retired six years ago after 30 years in law enforcement – 10 years with the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and 20 years at ACSO. Her late father was a corrections officer at the old Brushy Mountain State Prison.
She’s Anderson County through and through, born and reared in Briceville with her four brothers and two sisters on the small family farm. “We were so poor we didn’t know it,” she says. “It was country living. We grew our own food, had livestock and were very happy.”
She knows the county roads of Clinton, Oliver Springs, Oak Ridge, Briceville, Marlow, Rocky Top, Andersonville and Norris like the back of her hand.
Baird began her ACSO in the jail in a variety of roles, then transferred to the Operations Division where she held assignments in the Civil Process Division. Next, she completed the Blount County Law Enforcement Training Academy and received her POST Commission. That led to her time on patrol as a Patrol Deputy, Field Training Officer, and Crisis Intervention Officer.
She’s had a few tough times.
“Yes, I have been shot at by a guy we knew who had been on a meth binge for several days. I was about the first one on the scene just outside of Clinton,” she says. “He walked toward me and pointed his gun at me. It hit pretty close. It was a real eye opener, being shot at. A few of the SWAT guys showed up and took him down.”
Baird says her most “gut wrenching” experience was finding a woman on the front porch of a New River Highway home, almost beaten to death. “The man beat her in her home and took her to this house and dumped her. Her skull and face were battered. She was covered in blood. It was awful. She had several surgeries but survived. Not long after he murdered someone and is in prison today,” she said.
This little 5-foot, 1-inch lady enjoys life. “My husband’s retired. I give him a honey-do list every week. He does the majority of the cooking and that makes it a lot easier for me,” Baird says. “We spend a lot time together – hunting deer, turkeys and fishing – and I really enjoy crafts. I make flower arrangements, wreaths and table top arrangements.”
A new “job” is training their new puppy, Scout, to be a search and rescue dog. Scout is a Golden Retriever. “We’ll train him to search for missing persons, children, patients, search buildings in hurricanes and people with Alzheimer’s,” she said. ‘We’ll go anywhere we’re needed.”
Her sons from her first marriage are Cody, 31, and Kyle, 23. Both are U.S. Army veterans. Cody served in Afghanistan and Kyle in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cody is an officer with the Oliver Springs Police Department. Kyle works for a manufacturing company. Her daughter is Summer, 21, who also works at a plant in Anderson County.
The motto she lives by is no surprise: “Life is all about the journey and the people you help along the way.”
Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and was the editor of two newspapers. Suggest future stories at firstname.lastname@example.org call him at 865-659-3562.