Odessa, TX – The Sheriff’s Office welcomed one of it own, when Mike Griffis took the reins left by Mark Donaldson. The new sheriff was elected into office by the voters of Ector County and began his duties in 2017.
The sheriff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, and has spent that time serving the Ector County community. This morning, I had the opportunity to sit down and go One-On-One with Sheriff Griffis. He was a very down-to-earth guy. The conversation was very informative, and it gave me a better perspective of how much responsibility and dedication his position demands.
We opened the discussion with affects of the current pandemic. With two months of stay-at-home guidelines and a slowed economy, I asked Griffis if he had noticed an increase in any particular crimes during this time. He noted, “There has been a slight uptick in family disturbance calls. I’ve also seen an increase in oilfield theft a little bit. I attribute the oil slump as a factor to that, so we’re trying to stay on top of it.”
We discussed the current protests and rallies across the nation, and had it affected operations with his office locally. “We’re still answering calls as they come in (business as usual), and I just encourage everybody during this time of unrest to remain vigilant. I don’t think anyone is in any more danger today than they were a couple of months ago.” The sheriff continued, “A lot of the crimes that occur are not random. The assaults and shootings and cases such as that, the victim is known to the offender. With events like the protest on Sunday and again on Wednesday, we try to gather all the intelligence we can. We try to prepare for it and make sure we have sufficient resources and personnel to handle any given situation that should arise.”
You could sense a concerning and caring tone in his voice as he designated priority, “We absolutely do not want anyone getting hurt. And secondly, we don’t want anybody’s property being damaged. We’re still going to try to protect the community the best we can. So if anybody breaks the law, we’re going to put them in jail. The state is still under a Disaster Declaration, so penalties for committed crimes can be enhanced upon prosecution.” Griffis warns, “Don’t get yourself in trouble. Just follow the law. It’s not hard to do. The majority of people do follow the law, and the ones that don’t will be dealt with.”
The sheriff has deep ties to the community. He was born and raised in Odessa, back when 42nd St. was two-lane, University Blvd was called 27th St., and Oakwood Ln. ended as a dirt road at what eventually became Parkway (later named JBS Parkway). Along with sharing memories of ‘Do you remember when?’ (I too am a born-and-bred Odessan), Griffis detailed his relationship with the community. “Odessa is my home. This is our people. Ector County has been good to me and my family, and my dad used to work in the oilfield. I love our community and we have some great people here. There’s no other people with the personality like West Texas folk. All that most of us want is to live in peace, be able to earn a living, and have a little space of our own.”
We shifted the conversation to the potential threat of individuals or groups not from the Permian Basin with ill-willed intentions. Griffis had these suggestions, “I would encourage our citizens that see individuals driving around looking overly suspicious or out of place, that might be casing their neighborhood, to call law enforcement. That gives us a chance to identify the individuals and establish their intent.”
He then added a harsh reality to our talks, “Right now, there are a lot of law enforcement officers that are being targeted merely for being law enforcement trying to do their jobs and uphold order. Almost all of the officers are good folks, but all it takes is one bad egg to make the whole group look bad.”
While there have been a few bad eggs in recent events, Sheriff Griffis came across to me as a fair man with integrity, honor, and pride. And, isn’t that the West Texas way? Thank you Sheriff for the visit and for your service to our community.
– Graduated from Permian High School.
– Has two grown daughters and six grandsons.
– Began attending Odessa College Law Enforcement Academy in 1988.
– Joined Ector County Sheriff’s Office in 1989 as a reserve deputy.
– Became Constable of Precinct 1 in 1993.
– Became a full time member of ECSO in 1995.
– Worked his way up ranks as Investigator, Patrol Sgt., and Patrol Lieutenant.
– Promoted to Inspector in 2015.
– Board member of Ector County Children’s Services Board.
– Advisory board member for the Salvation Army.
– Board member of Project LifeSaver.
– Member of the Odessa Rotary Club.