"You're not anonymous here," Dalton continues. "Everybody knows who you are, where you live, where your kids go to school, how old they are, what their names are. It's a very close-knit community. That's what is very, very unique about our job. It's not uncommon for us to receive a phone call at home even before we get the call at the communications center. A person will say, 'Hey, Keith, a couple of people are arguing across the street.' I've even had suspects call and say, 'Hey, I just had a loud argument with my wife. You're going to get a call, where do you want me to meet you?' A lot of officers and deputies would find that very difficult because they enjoy their anonymity when they're off."
That loss of anonymity, according to Dalton, can be inimical to deputies for a couple of reasons. "A lot of cops are -- I don't want to say paranoid, but they see a lot of things, and it makes them cautious, and they like to keep their families separate from their jobs. Up here, you can't do that. You live and work right in the community. You might have to arrest somebody you've known for years. That's difficult. And the next day at school his kids are giving your kids a hard time. 'Your dad arrested my dad last night.' Many people wouldn't be comfortable with that situation.
"Also," Dalton continues, "you have to be willing to live up to a certain moral standard in order to enforce the law effectively. You can't just obey the law. For instance, if you were closing the bar every night, you'd lose credibility. It's not illegal to do that, but you'd lose credibility with the people up here. It's not illegal to have an affair with somebody else's wife. But pretty soon everybody would know, and you'd lose credibility. So you have to live up to higher moral standards. Some guys wouldn't be comfortable with that."
Another defining characteristic of rural law enforcement is being on call during off-duty hours. Rural stations are not staffed 24 hours a day, but the deputies who work those stations are called out of their homes at all hours to answer calls. "It's the normal part of our job that you wouldn't normally find in a deputy's job description," Dalton says. "We're on call from the end of our previous shift to the beginning of our next. If the phone rings after midnight, I know I'm going to work."
Though rural deputies are paid overtime for after-hours calls, Dalton says it can be difficult. "In the last six months, I've been down off this mountain maybe three times. You're not as free to move around when you're on call. Some nights I get called out of my bed four times. Then I have to go to work in the morning. That can be tough."