|Terry and Purplelicious|
“Heck, I have shown up in baggy shorts and a golf shirt to the conventions. Travel wear!” recalls the seasoned lawman. While most wear their boots and white stetsons, very few dress like civilians.
Normally, Sheriff Box wears dress slacks and a polo type shirt. He could more easily pass as a history teacher at the local high school.
When Terry Box took office, Collin County’s population was around 200,000. Now with the tremendous growth of Plano, Frisco, Allen, Celina, Fairview, Anna, Melissa, Princeton, Farmersville, and McKinney, the count is closing in on a million. It won’t be long!
The southern border catches a bit of Carrollton, Dallas, and Garland as well as parts of Richardson. In all, 31 cities and towns are inside the county’s border. An incredible blend of the newest urban developments and rural historic Texas can be experienced in Collin County.
Box’s Upholstery in McKinney was Terry’s fathers business. The one time president of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas was born and raised in McKinney.
After graduating from McKinney High, he began his career as a 19-year-old police dispatcher. He has dated his wife Rendy since he was a junior in high school, and they are still dating after 40 years.
“My wife is the kindest, most caring person I know," beams the sheriff. "I am sure she gets me more votes at election time than I do! When she goes shopping, she ends up buying things for others as much as for herself."
“When I was 21, I became a peace officer in Plano. I took the job because I just couldn’t see arresting people I grew up with and knew so well.”
Ten years later Terry was lured to the sheriffs’ office with a rank of Lieutenant and was the Deputy Chief three years later. After the death of close friend Sheriff Joe Steenbergen in 1985, Box was appointed by the Commissioners Court to complete the term and has been Sheriff Box ever since.
After a special election in ’86 where he faced four opponents, the Republican Party candidate has basically run unopposed ever since. It’s is no wonder!
Collin County’s sheriff has maintained an impeccable reputation that has led to special FBI training at Quantico and an appointment by Governor Bush for the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, where he became the chairman in 2000.
“Collin County is very fortunate to have a man like Terry Box as their sheriff”, claims Randall County Sheriff Joel Richardson.
“When Randall County built their new county jail, we decided to model it after Collin County. "Theirs was one of only two jails to successfully integrate a state of the art Direct Supervision Facility," he said. "His progressive style of management and his kindness, courtesy, and respect for human rights has helped me to see a different side of law enforcement and jail operations. We sent our staff down to McKinney to train at their facility. Sheriff Box and his staff were so accommodating, and all of us were grateful and impressed with the leadership and their management style. When I started in law enforcement, I was part of the bag 'em and cage 'em mentality. Now, I see my job in a more humanistic light of protecting the rights of every individual.”
The Collin County staff takes in account that 'not all who are held in a county jail have been found guilty of their charges'. Many awaiting trial and held in custody are later found to be innocent. This facility and its staff helps maintain that consideration.
“The sheriffs’ senior staff views Sheriff Box as an inspiration with great ethics, and an approachable style of leadership that makes everyone strive to be a kinder, better person.” this from long-time friend Major Mike Anderson.
There isn’t enough space to list his resume of boards, directorship, accreditation's, and community service involvement. The modest sheriff doesn’t even list them on the county Web site like many others do.
Always early to work, he disdains being lazy or late but forgives others just as easily as he leads by his example. If you want to talk to the sheriff, just call early and he will most likely answer the phone himself.
His humanity showed itself in spades when he discussed the challenges of his border county brethren.
“They live a totally different life than I do! They have to fear for their staff, their families, and even their own safety every day. Not me!” In Lou Gehrig-type style he closed our interview with his appreciation for his family and his home.
“I am always aware that I am one of the truly lucky people to have a job I love, in a great county, and in my home town.”
- J.B. Blocker is a media consultant based in Collin County in North Texas. Advertise with J.B. by calling 469-334-9962. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org