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Sheriff Campbell Marks 50 Years in Law Enforcement

UPDATE 1-5-2011 by Julie Montanaro

Larry Campbell has been wearing a badge for 50 years. The longest serving law officer in Florida. These eyes have seen plenty of mayhem and murder ... but back in January 1961 ... it was this fresh-faced Leon High grad who reported for duty ... working overnights at the jail.

"They said, you know, what do you want to be and I said, I'm a cop."

Campbell has worked for LCSO, FDLE, graduated from the FBI Academy at the top of his class, been past president of the Florida Sheriff's Association, and forged a reputation as an astute interrogator with a sharp tongue and a fast wit.

Campbell says, "I can sit there and cut the fool with you and have a big time and then put you in jail a few minutes later and I have certainly done that. I like people to know that we're your friend. At the same time, I want the bad guys to know, I'll kill you."

Campbell has seen the emergence of pot, heroin, crack, and meth, presided over the evolution of billy clubs, pepper spray and stun guns, he's worked in three different Leon County jails, and worked a seemingly endless list of kidnappings, robberies and murders.

"That's one of the most horrible cases ever,"

The 1967 murders of two teens at Blue Sink and the 1966 killing of the Sims Family haunt him still ...

"We never have been able to clear it."

Campbell has defeated opponent after opponent on the campaign trail, including a recent battle with lung cancer. He's been re-elected four times and will decide in March if he plans to run again.

"Do you think you've made a difference?" - Reporter

"I hope that I have. I hope that a lot of people find out, you don't have to be a stuffed shirt to be an elected official."

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Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell is marking a milestone in his career that few of us ever reach.

Today (1-5) is his 50th anniversary in law enforcement.

Larry Campbell has been solving crimes and locking people up for 50 years. He's also given his name and his time to a long list of community organizations and compassionate causes.

Larry Campbell has been wearing a badge since January 5, 1961 when he worked overnights at the jail ... which was on Gaines Street then.

This is his very first id card issued by the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

He would rise to become head of detectives, become FDLE's first undercover drug agent, and ultimately become a four-term sheriff who still jokes about why he chose law enforcement over his first love ... dentistry.

"I was looking for something that was interesting because of what I was doing at the sheriff's office already. That seemed to be pretty interesting and I started studying it. I didn't have to study it very much and then there was abnormal psychology. I didn't have to study it at all. It just kind of was there, I think, you know, I are one," Campbell said with a laugh.

About 500 law enforcement officers, family and friends from across the state are converging on Tallahassee tonight to honor Campbell.

We'll be live at Tallahassee's Antique Car Museum later tonight to share in the memories.

We want to point out that tonight's celebration is a roast and if you know Larry Campbell, that's just as he'd like it.


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