Growing up, Russ Davis always looked up to his two uncles, a sheriff and a police chief, and he knew he wanted to follow in their footsteps.
The impetus came about 15 years ago during a series of high-speed chases in Hayden. From his auto parts shop on Jefferson Avenue, Davis remembers watching Hayden police Chief Jody Lenahan scramble to assemble road blocks.
Davis thought someone should be available to back up Lenahan and other officers, who often work alone.
"That really pushed me to get involved," said Davis, who recently joined the Routt County Sheriff's Office as a patrol deputy after 13 years of volunteer service with the Hayden Police Department.
Working as a reserve officer allowed Davis to continue to run his store, Davis Auto Parts, which he has owned for 25 years.
Still, becoming a full-time law enforcement officer was "in the back of my head all along," he said.
The opportunity came when Davis' longtime employee Pam Gann said she was ready to manage the auto parts store. Davis continues to help out on his days off from patrol -- though much of his free time is spent studying Sheriff's Office procedures and locations of county roads and subdivisions.
"I'm very excited to have Russ on board," Sheriff John Warner said. "He's showed he has put the time and commitment into law enforcement. ... We think he'll be an excellent employee."
Davis' service in Hayden is the longest of any reserve officer, Lenahan said.
"He was always willing to come out and back us up, and he did an excellent job on that. ... He really was valuable to us," he said.
A few situations stand out among the many times Davis was called on to assist officers.
Particularly memorable was a case about 10 years ago involving a person stealing flags from public areas and burning them, and burglarizing the Hayden Mercantile.
"We were taking turns dressed in dark clothing, skulking around waiting for him," Davis said.
Although officers never caught the culprit in the act, further investigation and several breaks in the case led to a man's arrest, Davis said.
"It took a lot of work on everybody's part to get that thing done," he said.