By Ben Lawson
When he ultimately settled on a career in law enforcement, Christopher Cleaveland found some large shoes to fill by following in his father’s footsteps.
A Seymour graduate, Christopher considered a career in computers, another interest of his, but knew law enforcement was the right choice, which certainly pleased his father, Deputy Ryan Cleaveland.
“I would never push him toward that, people have to make up their own minds about what they do,” Ryan said. “But I’m happy and proud.”
Since graduating from the academy in Greenville, Christopher has joined his dad at the Sevier County Sheriff’s Department, where he dove straight into patrol.
He’s currently working his way through his second month of field training. Unlike Knoxville, which sets a date on how long training will last, the SCSD allows each training officer to decide when the trainees are ready. It typically lasts eight or more weeks.
During training, the officers go on routine patrol calls while being supervised. Christopher said most of the calls have been what he expected, except the domestic violence cases: there’s only so much the academy can prepare someone for.
Since he works the night shift, he expects to see a lot of DUI calls. So far he’s had two, one of which will go to court on Friday, where he’ll be expected to provide further details on the case.
“That can be a challenging part of our jobs,” Ryan said. “But in time he’ll learn what needs to be said and what evidence is needed to get a conviction.”
Adjusting to the department’s schedule was also tricky. Deputies work 12-hour shifts, with two days on and two off.
“That first day I had off, I slept all day,” Christopher said.
With all the encouragement he’s had since joining the department, Christopher said he’s very happy with the decision he made. He also hopes working in Sevier County will help lay the groundwork for a future in law enforcement, perhaps federal work.
“I’m happy where I’m at right now, but that’s something I’m looking into,” he said.
Ryan asked around the department, but no one had any knowledge of a father and son working together in Sevier County before.
Some departments, like Pigeon Forge, do not allow family to work together at all. Ryan stressed that he would never interfere in Christopher’s work, but would like to think his years in law enforcement would come in handy if needed. Christopher agreed.
“I think it would help to have that extra knowledge,” he said.
Son Joins Father on Force
By Ben Lawson