Catawba County Sheriff's Office Capt. Roy Brown is retiring — again.
And when Brown, 62, retires Dec. 31, he'll be very cautious about where he volunteers during his second stint of retirement from a more than 30-year law enforcement career.
Volunteering five years ago at a local elementary school brought the then-retired State Bureau of Investigation agent back into law enforcement with the Catawba County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff Coy Reid approached Brown in 2005 at a Webb A. Murray Elementary School volunteer book reading with a big question.
"He said, 'Are you ready to come back to work?'" Brown recalled.
What Brown said was supposed to be a "very limited thing" at the sheriff's office turned into five more years of service to Catawba County and its residents.
"I knew of his experience, his professionalism and his integrity," Reid said. "I asked him if he was interested in joining the team."
Brown consulted with his wife, Bink, and the two decided that the time was right for him to re-start life in law enforcement — a career Brown said he always knew he wanted.
Brown started in the police department of Mount Airy, the town known throughout the world as Mayberry and the inspiration for The Andy Griffith Show.
"That was home for me," Brown said.
After graduating from Wake Forest University, Brown found employment at High Point Police Department. He almost didn't make the cut, however, because of the departmental height requirement.
Brown didn't let that stop him. He told a member of the department that he was "tall enough to do the job," and he was right.
Brown joined the State Bureau of Investigation in 1971. He worked in narcotics, as well as the department's homicide division.
"The Bureau grew, and I grew with it," Brown said.
Brown and Bink moved to Hickory in 1988 with their three children. He retired from the SBI after more than 27 years of service before eventually returning to the sheriff's office for five more years as a public servant.
"I just fell in love with the people (at the sheriff's office)," Brown said. "It was exciting. It was altogether new again."
And on the eve of Brown's retirement, its his fellow law enforcement officers, not himself, that Brown wants to recognize.
"The people who do this job are absolutely unique in that they get up every morning, kiss their family goodbye and strap on a weapon," Brown said. "They go to what is, in effect, a limited war. Then, everyone expects them to come home and take off the weapon."
Brown said he learned during his career that successful law enforcement officers must strike a delicate balance in their lives for self-preservation.
"As law enforcement officers, you learn to be judgmental, because it's a survival tactic," Brown said, "but it can never become a prejudice. If it does become a prejudice, you have to find another job."
For Brown, law enforcement was the right job for more than 30 years, but now is the time to start a new chapter.
Reid appreciates Brown's decision to leave the sheriff's office, but he said he hates to see him go.
"(Brown) brought a lot of experience to a lot of young investigators," Reid said. "We're all going to miss him. The division is going to miss him. He made it what it is today."
Brown and Bink have been married for 38 years. They have two sons, who are youth ministers, and a daughter, who works as a trauma nurse. The Browns' children live in western North Carolina, which makes it easy for Brown to see them and his grand-pig and grand-cat.
Brown plans to fish and spend time with Bink, who Brown described as a "truly remarkable lady." The Browns plan to travel within the country and internationally.
When Brown leaves his office for the last time, he'll miss his co-workers the most.
"The community we live in is incredible," he said. "It's been a good ride."