Sheriff retires after 40 years of service

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 10:07 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - William Burgess became sheriff in Fillmore County in 1981, and he’s enjoyed serving the public through the years.

Burgess’ last day was Friday, Oct. 29. He’s looking forward to a new chapter in his life in retirement. “I have seven grandchildren, and I plan to spend time with them,” Burgess said. “I have three girls, one is in Oklahoma, and two of my grandsons are there, so my wife and I will travel to see them once in a while.”

Working with people and serving the public is what Burgess likes about the law enforcement career. “I just absolutely love to help people out,” Burgess said. He was not only a sheriff in Fillmore County, but also served as a Sutton police officer, and chief of police in Sutton. He started his career in 1976. In 1980, he came over to Fillmore County as a deputy. “I worked with Sheriff Delaney. He decided to resign, and on Aug. 24, 1981, I was appointed sheriff.”

Burgess says being a law enforcement officer is tougher today. “Nationwide in law enforcement, we’ve been getting a bad wrap,” Burgess said. “That’s filtered down to Nebraska. LB 51 will make it challenging for smaller sheriffs and smaller police chiefs to hire people. LB 51 is about law enforcement reform. It’s going to affect the smaller agencies,” Burgess said.

Some of the big events Burgess remembers are the homicides he’s worked on. He also recalls responding to natural disasters such as tornadoes. There are many achievements he’s proud of. “I served on the Community Corrections Council, Burgess said. “Governor Mike Johanns appointed me there. I was involved in some legislative bills, and I served with MOCIC, which is Mid States Organized Crime Information Center. I served on that executive board for 12 years.”

Burgess has a message for those considering law enforcement as a career. “I would say it’s a good profession to go into,” Burgess said. “Times change. But the key is to treat people the way you’d want to be treated.”

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