A lot of things in law enforcement have changed over the years, retired Bamberg Police Chief George Morris said.
“In the early years, it was a lot different than it is today. I saw a lot of changes, some good, some bad, a lot of new equipment,” he said.
“Today, law enforcement is not what it used to be. It’s hard to get the satisfaction out of it because of the political situation in our country,” Morris said. “I know some of the people do, but a lot of the people out there don’t respect law enforcement like they used to. And a police officer’s word is not what it used to be in the courtroom.”
“It’s a whole different world now from what it was when I started,” he said.
But Morris doesn’t regret his career choice.
“I worked with a lot of good people, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve got no complaints,” he said.
“I felt like it was something that was my calling. That was what I did – that was me,” Morris said. “I enjoyed it. I tried to learn all I could learn (even with) the constant changing.”
“But I never forgot that I worked for the people. And that’s one thing that kept me going,” he said.
Morris retired at the end of August after working for more than 50 years in law enforcement. He went to work for Bamberg in 1968, became acting chief in 1986 and was named chief the following year.
“I don’t know anywhere that keeps records, but I’ve got to be one of the longest serving police chiefs in the state,” he said.
Morris said he was born in Orangeburg County outside Neeses, but grew up in Denmark. He is a graduate of Denmark High School.
“When I graduated high school, I was kind of interested in law enforcement work, but I didn’t know too much about it," he said.
Morris enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving as a military policeman for three years.
After he left the military, he worked at different jobs, including some in law enforcement, before landing a position with the Bamberg Police Department, where he served for the rest of his career.
On a call about 40 years ago, Morris was shot in the line of duty.
“I was trying to arrest a disorderly person on a Sunday morning,” he said, “He pulled a gun on me, and we got in a tussle over the gun, and he ended up shooting me in the back.
“I had good doctors, and they pulled me through,” Morris said. “I guess it just wasn’t my time.”
Law enforcement isn’t an easy career, he said.
“I saw a lot. You never get over accidents where children get hurt, bad wrecks where children are killed. I’ve seen a lot of death. Of course, I’ve seen a lot of good things, too," Morris said.
“And I wish I’d spent more time with my family ... when they were growing up. But I was always on the job, always had a schedule,” he said. “Now I don’t have a schedule.”
Part of his retirement plans include spending more time with his children and grandchildren.
“I think I got a few more years I can enjoy retirement and be with my family and do some of the things I want to do,” he said.
Morris and his wife Ann each have two children from previous marriages; his two sons both work in law enforcement, he said.
Despite all the challenges, Morris said he would encourage young people to pursue careers in law enforcement.
“It’s a good career,” he said.
Retirement has been an adjustment for him, Morris said.
“The first few weeks, I really didn’t feel good. I was kind of under a lot of stress and all,” he said.
“But now I’m getting back to my normal self and do kind of what I want to do.”
That includes a bit of hunting, tackling his wife’s “honey-do” list around the house and tending to his goats and chickens.
“It’s all different. It’s taken me a while to get my mind geared. For all those years, I was geared for law enforcement 24 hours a day,” Morris said.
“It’s kind of hard making that change.”