It was 1965 when Ed Burton decided he wanted a career in law enforcement and joined the ranks of the Ardmore Police Department. Serving in a variety of posts, Burton rose through the ranks, attaining captain’s bars before he retired in 1989.


It was 1965 when Ed Burton decided he wanted a career in law enforcement and joined the ranks of the Ardmore Police Department. Serving in a variety of posts, Burton rose through the ranks, attaining captain’s bars before he retired in 1989.


Except he didn’t really retire.


What he did was exchange his APD uniform for that of a Carter County deputy. Burton went to work at the Carter County Sheriff’s Department as a transport officer under then sheriff Robert Denney. A year later, Bill Noland took over the sheriff’s reins from Denney and named Burton undersheriff. It was a post the retired police captain held for seven years. Then he retired for the second time. The year was 1996.


“I went into the private process service business and acquired some rental properties that I looked after,” Burton said, describing his second retirement.


Five years later, Burton found himself out of retirement and in uniform again.


“In 2001, I returned to the county (Carter County Sheriff’s Department-Carter County District Court) and became the court’s security officer,” Burton said. “I’ve been here almost eight years.”


In 2009, Burton is going to try retirement a third time and he says the third time is the charm. So what’s the plan?


“Plans? Well, I don’t really have any plans,” Burton said, the easy smile he’s famous for spreading across his face. “What I do have is a whole list of things to do around the house — a honey-do list. And I’m just going to take it easy.”


While Burton says he really doesn’t plan to come out of retirement again, he has enjoyed his longtime career as an area lawman.


“I worked under four police chiefs and four sheriffs. I’ve enjoyed my time at the police department and the sheriff’s department. But I’ve also really enjoyed the courthouse. It (courthouse) is a little different than being on the street. I’ve really enjoyed the people here at the courthouse. I’ve made a lot of friends. And I’ve learned a lot about the court system. I’ve come to really enjoy hearing the evidence and trials.”


District Judge Tom Walker said Burton has served the courthouse with distinction.


“Ed has done a great job for us. The combination of his many years of law enforcement experience and low-key personality is just the right ticket to preventing a confrontation before it can ever get started.  Not all rural counties have the advantage of a security officer. Among those that do, I cannot imagine anyone who does a better job than Ed,” Walker said.


“The area where he has been most valuable is domestic relations cases –– divorces and child custody. The popular misconception is that criminal cases pose the most likely threat of violence, not so. Every statistical study of courtroom violence reveals the same result. If violence is going to erupt, the odds are that it will be in a domestic relations case. Recognizing this, on many, many occasions Ed sensed the potential for trouble and nipped it in the bud. His shoes will be difficult to fill.”


John Ryan, who recently retired from his job as captain of the night shift at Ardmore Police Department, has been selected to fill Burton’s shoes. Burton said he was pleased Ryan was the officer who would replace him.


“I’ve talked with John and he’ll be working closely with the judges and county commissioners. One of the things I’d like to see is security tightened here at the courthouse. I attended a school on it a year ago and I think it needs to be done,” Burton said.


“We were not able to increase security in 2008 because of remodeling projects that were going on. Now that those things are finishing up, it’s time and I know John will do a good job.”


And while increased security can be accomplished, Burton said his years at the courthouse have also shown him another need.


“I’d like people who come to the courthouse to show more respect for the court. They come dressed shabbily and it’s like they don’t really care. Our judges deserve proper respect,” Burton said.


For the veteran law enforcement officer, the last few days of being “on duty” will be bittersweet. But Burton said one thing he knows his retirement will include will be visits to the scene of his last duty assignment.


“I’m going to miss the people here and I'll be back –– maybe even sit in on a trial or two,” he said.


Marsha Miller 221-6529
marsha.miller@ardmoreite.com