Memories of a Del Norte 'badge'

May 02, 2002 12:00 am
Loyd Seats, a retired Del Norte County Sheriff's Department sergeant, relaxes at his Klamath home, which features, among other things, a bear rug that doubles as a place to hang his hat. Seats recently published a memoir of his time in the force. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).
Loyd Seats, a retired Del Norte County Sheriff's Department sergeant, relaxes at his Klamath home, which features, among other things, a bear rug that doubles as a place to hang his hat. Seats recently published a memoir of his time in the force. (Stephen M. Corley/ The Daily Triplicate).

By Laura Brown

Triplicate staff writer

After 10 years, Loyd Seats, retired sergeant from the Del Norte County Sheriff's Department, has completed a book documenting his 30 years of experience in law enforcement.

Sitting in his kitchen where he spent many early morning hours with a tape recorder, Seats talks about his life.

"I wore a uniform for 30 years and shaved twice a day," he begins, "this is who I am, now," said Seats, showing off his well-worn flannel shirt and an unshaven face.

Even before his retirement in 1990, Seats began to dictate his inside portrayal of life on the streets onto 120-minute cassette tapes. By the time he finished, 16 tapes had been recorded. The book was written word-for-word as Seats dictated it and captures the down-to-earth, gritty style of the man born in Romance, Arkansas.

"When I start talking, I can remember things just like they happened yesterday," said Seats who said travelling down memory lane was a bumpy road and he had to revisit some very emotional memories. And although life as a peace officer was full of stress and strain, Seats says he would probably do it all over again.

Seats began his career in the Klamath area as a resident deputy in the 1960s before the flood and remembers a lawless time.

"We had people running around sawing each other up or sawing bars in half with chain saws, this kind of thing was almost a custom. So you can see this sort of job did not appeal to most folks of average intelligence. But I thought I would try it because I needed a job. It sure wasn't the money," Seats says in the beginning of his story. He started out making $385 a month.

Besides the Klamath resident post, Seats also worked in Smith River, Gasquet in boating safety, and at the county jail. The accounts of "the way it really is on the streets" is the focus of Seats 188-page documentation. "It's not all blood and guts. There is a lot of amusing stuff in there," Seats says as he lights another cigarette.

Over the years, Seats has seen many changes in law enforcement and thinks some of them are for the worse. "I hear things that come over the scanner that can be handled in five or 10 minutes if the deputy has any idea what they are doing," said Seats, who says the new ways don't work as effectively as the old-school method.

"New and young officers base their efficiency upon the number of arrests they make. This idea is backwards. If you are a peace officer and you are doing your job efficiently, these arrests are normally not necessary," said Seats. The basis for a good peace officer is a combination of intelligence, experience – and most importantly, common knowledge.

His theories have not won him the popularity contest in the department. "I was known throughout my career for my methods and techniques many thought were unorthodox because I didn't fit the normal mold of a peace officer. If you didn't have it coming, you didn't get it," Seats said as he walked down his back porch into the fog-thick morning.

These days, Seats life is quieter from the crime-riddled ones of his youth and now he devotes his time to gardening, trout fishing and gold mining. He lives with his wife in Klamath where the couple has resided since 1956.

"The things that stand out most in my life is when I was able to help someone. That's what peace officer work is all about."

Seats isn't expecting to get rich from his new publishing career. He had only 20 of his self-published books printed and he said he has sold 16. Low sales aren't slowing him down, though.

Seats says he is already coming up with ideas for a second edition.