ON THE COVER: Finding a new path - Conway woman pushes the limits of multiple sclerosisREAD ONLINE
Faulkner County sheriff says role ‘meant to be’Originally Published June 16, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated June 14, 2013 at 2:54 p.m.
Faulkner County Sheriff Andy Shock’s personality, from his fierce loyalty to family and dogged dedication to law enforcement to his soft-hearted affection for developmentally disabled individuals, can be summed up in a sentence.
“I think it boils down to being a protector,” he said.
He was elected in November as sheriff of Faulkner County, the first Republican in the office since Reconstruction.
Shock, 39, of Saltillo said his career might have been foretold in family photos.
“My mom shows pictures of me in briefs with a little plastic gun and gun belt, riding on a tricycle,” he said, laughing.
By his conversation and collections in his office, Shock leaves no doubt what he cares about.
Some of his favorite topics are family, God, guns, junking and his job.
The walls of his office in downtown Conway, in the building that houses a jail, are covered with old Arkansas license plates.
“I could cover three offices with my license plates,” he said.
Toy trucks are displayed on window ledges, and he picks up a red one from the 1920s.
Advertising signs are an addiction.
“I’m known as a sign guy and a truck guy,” he said.
He buys and sells, and he rents six flea-market booths to sell his treasures.
A collage of photos is framed from his meeting with Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, stars of the television show American Pickers.
The show was coming to Arkansas, and Shock emailed producers to tell them about the antique business and collections and winning record of John Hutchcraft of Guy, Shock’s friend and a former basketball coach.
Hutchcraft was filmed, not Shock, but Shock said he got to talk about antiques for hours, which made him happy.
Shock points out his family photos, too.
He and his wife, Kim, have a son, Ryan, who turned 18 this month, and a daughter, Alli, 15.
“I grew up in a very close-knit family,” Shock said.
Shock, the son of Andrew and Margaret Shock, was raised with two younger brothers and a younger sister on a farm in Enola.
“To this day, they have cattle,” he said of his parents.
His father has worked at Kimberly-Clark for 39 years, and his mother is a homemaker.
“My favorite place on Earth is Enola, Ark., the small hometown atmosphere where you know everyone, their parents and grandparents. I’m there as often as my schedule will allow,” Shock said.
He said he spent a lot of time fishing at his grandparents’ house in Naylor, but they’re no longer living.
“I miss them a lot,” he said of Koonie and Ada Mae Fason.
Shock played basketball in high school — “Once upon a time, I could dunk it,” he said — and he was offered college basketball scholarships.
“It just didn’t feel right,” Shock said, adding that he wanted to stay close to home.
He got a job as a life-skills training supervisor at the Conway Human Development Center “and just fell in love with the job and the residents,” he said.
He also fell in love with Kim, who was working as an aide at the center.
She is a music teacher in the Vilonia School District.
“I started this job here as a hobby,” Shock said.
In 1999, he became a reserve deputy for the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office.
“I found something I never anticipated — I found something I loved more than CHDC,” he said.
The residents are “the sweetest, kindest, loving, huge-hearted individuals,” he said.
He participates through the sheriff’s office in the center’s fundraisers, such as walkathons and bowlathons.
“I still go visit and will the rest of my life,” he said.
Shock, who had thoughts of going to college and going into law enforcement, said he “was leaning toward a federal job in law enforcement, but God had a different plan. I met my beautiful wife, and we hit it off.”
He became employed full time in the sheriff’s office in 2001.
“It was meant to be, without a shadow of a doubt,” he said.
“I’m a very spiritual person. Not perfect,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to get to work. I’d show up early and leave late. It’s a profession you have to sacrifice a whole lot, personally.”
He said he’s missed a lot of his children’s ballgames and birthday parties.
Shock pointed to a drawing his son, when he was 5, made on a computer. Shock has the drawing protected under glass on his desk.
Two trucks — one red, one blue — are pictured. One has an arrow that says “Bad guy”; the other says “Daddy.”
His son wrote, “Copping is a good job. You get to take bad guys to jail and you get to go to copping school. I love you Bigg Daddy.”
“I wouldn’t take $1,000 for it,” Shock said, getting misty-eyed. “I wouldn’t take $10,000 for that.”
Shock said one of the harder times in his life was the 12-week school in East Camden he had to attend to become a certified law enforcement officer.
It was the first year that Ryan played baseball. Shock said his wife called him every time Ryan went to bat so his dad could hear what was happening.
Another difficult time in their lives was during Shock’s 2012 campaign for sheriff.
Shock said he started thinking about running for sheriff in about 2005, “but I thought it was one of those goals that was unattainable. Not necessarily unattainable, but I didn’t see myself as a political-type person,” he said. “Doing my research and voting, yes. What changed was the experience I had here, which led me to being promoted to major in 2007,” he said.
Still, he makes a face of distaste when he talks about being a “politician.”
He was the victim of more than mud-slinging during the campaign.
Letters were mailed to approximately 20 Faulkner County residents or businesses with copies of a forged birth certificate and a letter that alleged Shock fathered a mixed-race child and that the mother was taking him to court for failure to pay child support.
The letters were mailed from Texas, and Harold Smith of Greenbrier, a former Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office deputy and another candidate for sheriff, was arrested for the act.
He pleaded guilty to a felony charge of mailing a false official document.
“I saw the dirty side of politics I knew existed, but I never had seen it firsthand,” Shock said.
“The people that participate in the negative part of politics don’t need to be in politics.
“I expected some negativity, some personal attacks, but when they start lowering themselves to that level, you know, there are no skeletons in my closet,” he said.
“My wife and I have the best marriage on Earth as far as I’m concerned. I definitely married up.”
Smith’s sentencing, “to which my whole family will be there and be allowed to give a victim-impact statement,” will be in August, Shock said.
Shock said the worst part of the ordeal was when his children were teased at school about the situation.
He said he cried when his daughter came home and said she was “tired of people picking on Dad.”
“My family wasn’t running for sheriff; I was,” he said.
Being sheriff is pretty much what he expected, he said.
“The only thing I wasn’t expecting was losing an officer,” he said.
Hans Fifer died in April of heart complications during a training exercise.
“He was a great guy, a super-good guy,” Shock said.
Shock said Fifer came to him in January and told him he wanted to be a deputy and received his certification.
“I knew enough about him to know he was the guy I wanted to represent me,” Shock said. “That’s definitely been the cloud, so to speak. You just have to put your faith in God, and someday we’ll see the bigger picture.”
Shock said the sheriff’s office “is a big family.”
He has some goals, including getting more money for deputies’ salaries.
“As far as me getting a raise, I couldn’t care less — could not care less,” he said.
“I always want to have more boots on the street,” he said.
“We have more deputies than we’ve ever had, 24 for patrol and two resource officers,” he said.
When Shock started at the sheriff’s office in 1999, it had eight patrol deputies.
One deputy stays in the office for walk-in reports, and eight criminal investigators are employed.
“As far as numbers, we’re in better shape than we’ve ever been,” he said.
He said deputies know the ground rules, which include being honest and fair.
“I look for first, a servant heart in people,” he said.
“I’ve had to terminate several people. I do not enjoy that. I struggle with it, but I’m not going to lower my standards.”
Cody Hiland of Conway, 20th Judicial District prosecuting attorney, said Shock is easy to talk about in a positive light.
“I think the people who know Andy — and there’s a lot of them — they trust him; they trust him. I think that’s the No. 1 thing that comes to mind with him,” Hiland said.
“He’s a grounded, humble person who is fiercely principled. I think that leads to effective leadership in the sheriff’s office.”
Hiland said Shock is one of the good guys.
“He’s one of the kindest people anyone could come across. He’ll give you the shirt off his back, but if he thinks his community or people are being harmed or endangered, he becomes a very strong, very protective person.”
For bullies or criminals, “Andy’s their worst nightmare,” Hiland said.
Shock proudly displays his National Rifle Association membership, and a wooden plaque is engraved with the words: “You can have my gun when I run out of bullets.”
“I’m not open for any debate on that,” he said.
“I’m extremely soft-hearted. I ain’t afraid to cry. But don’t mistake my kindness for weakness,” he said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or email@example.com.