Sheriff’s captain hangs up his badge
August 28, 2014
Barren walls surrounded his desk, his desktop cleared of all stacks of papers and trays.
Churchill County Sheriff's Capt. Mark Joseph leaned forward, smiling, as though a burden had been lifted.
To Joseph, though, he was looking forward to beginning a new chapter in his life after retiring on Tuesday from the CCSO after 24 years of public service.
With Joseph nearing his 62nd birthday, he figured retiring now was the best time.
Joseph, though, said he was pleased with the career path from the private to government sector.
After Joseph finished his schooling in Oregon, he didn't enter the law enforcement field immediately; instead, he worked his way up the ranks of Sprouse Reitz, a general merchandise chain of about 300 stores spread throughout 11 western states. It was Sprouse Reitz that first brought Joseph and his wife, Kathy, to Fallon in the mid-1980s, but eventually he earned a promotion as district manager and moved the family to Modesto, Calif. The excitement of working in law enforcement, though, beckoned Joseph when he left Sprouse Reitz in 1991.
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"You've heard the old adage: I wanted to be a cop," he said. "When I was much younger, I wanted to be in law enforcement, and then I decided I wanted to."
While in California, Joseph enrolled in several criminal justice classes and also educated himself in other areas of law enforcement. The big break, though, occurred almost 24 years ago when he applied to the CCSO and was hired.
"I applied only in Nevada and got hired here first," Joseph said of his deputy's job in Fallon. "I absolutely love Nevada. I started here in 1985 (with Sprouse Reitz) and became involved in search and rescue."
He said the short experience in central Nevada was enough to "whet his taste and get sand in my veins." He compared his return to Navy sailors and aviators who are first stationed in Fallon but when the opportunity arises, they return here.
Shy of 40 years old, Joseph began his second career as a jailer and then left for Reno to complete seven weeks of his Category 3 training at the Washoe County Sheriff's Academy. Joseph eventually completed his Category 1 POST (Peace Officers Standard Training) at the state academy.
Over the years, Joseph also worked on his intermediate, POST management and executive POST courses, finishing the first two programs.
"The management course took 600 more hours of training plus college classes to get," he said. "That's quite an achievement in law enforcement."
Although he has been one of Sheriff Ben Trotter's right-hand confidants for the past three years, Joseph said he enjoyed his work in investigations. Joseph said the challenge of being an investigator is to put clues together and solve big cases.
Joseph pointed toward the north wall at four huge, black binders, all containing information on the cases he has investigated. Looking back, he said one of the most satisfying cases was finding the murderer of Dennis Heck, who was killed in 2010. Joseph said he was also glad to put Daniel Green behind bars for child pornography and sexual assault.
Joseph's resolve in "getting his man" impressed Trotter.
"I've known him for 19 years from when I worked for the city of Fallon police," Trotter said. "I found him to be low-key and level headed."
Joseph, who became captain in 2011, shared the same dedicated work ethic with Trotter.
"I found him to be a finisher because he gets it done," Trotter said of Joseph's determination. "He has the respect of the department, and he gets that from his action and professionalism. He has definitely been a right-hand man, a great adviser."
Joseph's work in law enforcement has also touched his adult children, Shayla, a crime scene investigator (CSI) for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and David, a corrections sergeant at High Desert State Prison north of Las Vegas.
"Both are in that field, and they seemed to have gravitated toward law enforcement because of me," Joseph said.
Shayla Joseph has the highest regard for her father.
"He's honorable and ethical," she said. "He makes the right decision for the people."
What impresses Shayla is her father's ability to make a difference in people's lives,.
Shayla also said her father was a good investigator and a smart man in what he did.
"He would go into a crime scene with an open mind — most definitely," she said.
What's next for the Josephs? Joseph and Kathy have been married for 41 years, and they will remain in Fallon except for a trip to Oregon.
"We'll go back to Oregon and spend time with the family," he said. "We could be there for six months or a year. It's back home. Kathy has family there."