Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis talks what’s most important to him
ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Most people in the area recognize the man with the badge, Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis, through his adamant connection with, and adoration for the community. But what does it mean for him to represent local law enforcement and wear that Sheriff’s badge every day?
First, the decision to be in local law enforcement was a no brainer for Griffis.
“A lot of kids growing up, think they want to be a cop, or a fireman, or a doctor, or whatever, and I kind of always had interest in local law enforcement, being a cop, the excitement, exhilaration aspect of it, I guess,” he joked. “And so, I grew up wanting to be a cop and I’ve made my life being a cop a reality.”
Born and raised in Odessa, Sheriff Griffis chose to stay, and give back to the community that raised him by providing safety and security to West Texans, as Sheriff.
“Of course, when I was growing up, 42nd was a two lane road, Grandview a two lane road, it was a much smaller community, lot less people. But I’ve been here all my life, I never moved away,” he said with a smile. “Odessa’s been good to me, my dad worked in the oilfield, and it fed my family, it put clothes on us, a roof over our head. Odessa’s been good to us, it’s been good to me, and so I just feel like I need to give back all I can to this community.”
He was a part of the Sheriff’s Office for almost 20 years before taking a leap and running for Sheriff.
“Well, in 1989, I was sworn in as a deputy by then Sheriff Bob Brookshire. I joined the Sheriff reserve at that time, as a volunteer. Later on, I guess 1995, Sheriff Brookshire asked if I would like to come work full time and I did and so from that point on, I’ve been right here, getting a paycheck for what I did,” he laughed.
“Course I rose through the rank. In about 2015 I was a Lieutenant on patrol. I spent 20 years on the street and then I was promoted to number three position here at the Sheriff’s Office and after a couple of years, Sheriff Donaldson asked me if I ever thought about running for Sheriff and I said ‘Well I have!'”
And the rest was history. Griffis was elected into office in 2016 after Sheriff Donaldson recommended him for the job, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“He wasn’t gonna run but he wished that I would run and so I did and ultimately won the election and I’ve been here ever since.”
He said one important aspect of the job is volunteering, which he makes sure to be a part of throughout the community and beyond.
“You need to give of yourself! When you give of yourself, you’re given the most. It’s more than money can buy is when you give yourself to your community, and do what you can for that community, you’re just one spoke in that wheel, try and make your community better, and I’ve tried to do that through all the volunteer organizations that I’m a part of, the boards I’m a part of.”
“Getting no pay for that, whatsoever, and that’s not what’s important. The all mighty dollar is not what’s most important in my life, what is most important in my life is my community. God and my community, and my family.”
He said he absolutely feels the support from locals.
“One of the most exciting parts that I love is when we get to interact with our kids of our community, and participate in the parades and interact with our people, and see the support of our community, the people of this community. How much support we have and how much love they have for us and in return we love them, we love the support and the love they have, it shows.”
And that support continues throughout West Texas.
“The support we have in this community, in West Texas, is the best law enforcement support anywhere in the world, no doubt and we absolutely appreciate it.”
While out on the streets, it’s important for him to let his people put a face to the name.
“People know, when they see me out and about, and I just speak to people, I’ll just walk by people and say, ‘Hey, how y’all doing?’ You know, I mean that’s the way we do it, that’s the way I do it, and I’m here for the good of our community.”
He then added that the biggest thing for him as Sheriff was to provide comfort to the people of Odessa.
“When I came in, as Sheriff, my goal was to get things done, for the good of the employees, which will in turn be good for the community. I just want to leave this place better than the way I found it.”
But sometimes that’s harder to do, especially when you don’t have nearly enough employees.
“We have 10,079 bed jail, when we’re fully staffed, we’re about 300 employees, we’re pretty short right now. The jail is a chore, we are mandated to have one jailer per eight inmates, we struggle to do that, because of the number of employees we’re short, we’re having to outsource some of those inmates to other counties,” he shrugged.
“Thankfully I have good people working here that all they do, all day long, is logistics, making sure that we have the right number of people on the floor, and we ship these inmates to other jails to make sure we stay in compliance. It’s tough because we don’t have enough employees, our law enforcement’s short. You know, at some point, I want it to be, instead of being reactive, to be out there, chasing these bad guys before they know we’re there.”
But for the ones who are here to stay, he appreciates each and every one of them
“If I had to leave today for whatever reason, it’d be like leaving my family and you know, when you work, you spend more time with that work family than you do your blood family, you know.”
Because of course, he wants his employees to love their job, and in turn, love their community.
“Well, I love my community and I love my employees. I’m a big believer in if you have happy employees, you have happy customers. And that’s our ultimate goal, is to have happy customers.”
He said while it can be one hectic job.
“I’m a busy guy, you may see me at the grocery store, buying fertilizer for the yard, but I guarantee you, it never stops. My phones on 24 hours a day and many nights, I get text messages or phone calls, all night, every night.”
It’s all worth it, and he’s here to stay–well, for just a little longer.
“I can assure you, right now, if I win another term, I’m not going to run again. I’ll fade off into the sunset,” he laughed. “I’ll let someone else come up here and do the best they can to make our community as safe as they can.”
But hopes his story gets more people invested in their local law enforcement or, if you go so far, join the force.
“There are less than 100 thousand peace officers in the state of Texas, we’re very rare, if you will, rare, I mean, do the math, 30 million people in Texas and 100 thousand peace officers. In about 2019, I believe it was, there was a study done, and at that time, there was a 65% decline in the number of law enforcement applications, and I would suspect it’s doubled that now, if that’s possible,” he joked.
And said it’s not a bad option, career wise.
”It’s really not bad money and it’s really not that tough a job! It’s inside, no matter what the weather is outside and it’s hands on at times, but it’s pretty good pay and great benefits but, it’s unfortunate that people don’t desire to have this kind of career like they used too.”
So if you yourself are ever looking to join the force, Griffis has some advice.
“It’s really a rewarding job and if you like action and chasing people and adrenaline, you need to come to work, for us or another agency, we’re a big family, we support each other, we just try to do the right thing, speak the truth, and that way we never have to look over our shoulder.”
Griffis continued to mention the department is always in need of support so if you’re looking to give back to your community, check out the ECSO website to find out how.