SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – For Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright, it began on Aug. 22, 1986. In his mind, the exact date is as important as an anniversary or birthday. It stands out among the others. It’s the day he began his career in law enforcement as a sheriff’s deputy, and unknown to him at the time, he would never be the same again.  

From the beginning, the job was not what he expected.

After one week as a sheriff’s deputy, he even considered quitting. Seeing some of the worst sides of humanity was already taking a toll.

“I’m not so sure I am cut out for this work,”

Sheriff Chuck Wright says of his beginning days in law enforcement

However, his father-in-law, a state trooper, gave Wright advice that helped convinced him to stay. The trooper told Wright the job was about helping people at their worst, and that’s been his mission through law enforcement ever since.  

“That’s how I learned, and that’s the philosophy I carry with me today.”

In his three-decade career, he has seen law enforcement departments go from good to bad, and back again, but he’s proud to be a part of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, which he said embraces the moral and ethical values he admires.

“Sometimes it’s disheartening to see what officers do, but I wanted to be a part of something much better than that.”

There’s no denying the years of working in law enforcement have changed him. It’s the effect of seeing people at their worst for decades.

“I’ve been hit. Shot at. Almost run over a few times. You know, all the bad things you can have happen as an officer,” he said. “I learned. I just learned.”

One of those lessons was to be cautious of everyone. He began to see everyone as potential threats, not people, and could this could have made him angry toward those he intended to help.  He relies on family and prayer to overcome those lessons, the unfortunate byproducts of working in law enforcement.   

“I still find myself in a room full of people and I find myself seeing what’s going on. I still won’t sit with my back to the door,” he said. “Goofy things taught when you’re a deputy, but they pay off.”

There are two cases in his career that have loomed large in his thoughts – Todd Kohlhepp and Dana Satterfield.

“My deputies out there and myself saw some things I wish they hadn’t seen. I wish I hadn’t seen,” he said.

Wright said he believes that evil exists, and he sees himself as someone who fights against it with Christianity and compassion.  He and his wife helped found Rejoice Lutheran Church in Inman.

“Evil is evil. Evil can’t be dead enough,” he said.

His father-in-law also offered him the guidance he relies on during difficult situations.

“People are people. They get drunk and then do and say things they are not supposed to. He taught me to just let it go. Just be aware; don’t hold grudges,” he said.  “Sometimes you have to hit people. Don’t exact revenge. Just do your job.”

For those people in his custody, Wright said he encourages them to make changes and offers prayers.

 “I know that when Christ came to Earth, he didn’t come here to judge people,” he said. “He came to save us, man.”

Wright began his career in public service as a junior fireman in Wellford cleaning hoses before later becoming a fireman. He later grew fond of the law enforcement uniform. He liked that it demanded respect. He liked that it symbolized something bigger. He wanted to be a part of it, and so he has, since Aug. 22, 1986.

He and his wife of more than three decades have five children. Two of them are adopted, but he can’t remember which ones, he says jokingly.