73-Year-Old Man Oldest Law Enforcement Graduate
FAYETTE - There is no age limit to enroll in Columbia's Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI), part of the University of Missouri Extension. And that's a good thing for Howard County deputy Russ Harrison, who went there for law enforcement training after two previous careers.
Harrison enrolled in the training academy in January 2013 and graduated as class president in April at 73 years old. Harrison is the oldest person to ever go through the program and finish with "flying colors."
"I am 50 years older than the average student in that class, so I knew there would be several months of vigorous activities that I had to overcome," Harrison said.
Physical training (PT) is a large portion of the LETI program and was a concern for coordinator Adam Duncan.
"As we age, we tend to lose some flexibility and we don't recover as quickly as we do when we're young. [But it] doesn't mean we have any less ability," Duncan said.
Harrison said the PT test was difficult for him, but according to Duncan, he finished every PT test with "great attitude, along with everything he did."
In order to pass the physical examinations, Harrison started training at a gym prior to enrolling. Before Harrison decided to go into law enforcement, he served in Army Dental Corps, was an oral surgeon, dentist and was in forensics odontology before he retired in 2009.
"I have a desire to be active, find interesting things to do and not settle down in a chair and watch TV," Harrison added.
After completing the LETI program, students leave with a Class A license enabling them to work anywhere in Missouri as a law officer, except for those few departments that require candidates go through their own academies.
"As long as people are able to meet those physical standards, age is just a number," Duncan said.
Harrison works approximately 20 hours a week at the Howard County Sheriff's Department as a reserve deputy.
"I'm not being paid. It's because I like to be here and I want to make my contribution mean something," Harrison said.
Some of Harrison's duties include: helping other deputies when needed, patrolling the roads, providing security in the courtroom, shuttling prisoners back and forth to the courtroom, and involvement with drug raids.
Harrison helps under-staffing at the sheriff's department, working for no pay. The Howard County Sheriff's Department has four reserve deputies including Harrison.