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Serve & Protect: MCSO Deputy Todd Walsh

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A Long Island native turned heartfelt Hoosier, Deputy Todd Walsh of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office has built a law enforcement career in West Central Indiana by simply following his life’s calling:

To help those who can’t help themselves. To be the one who answers the cry in the dark. To be the barrier between good and evil.

New Yorker, Boilermaker and now permanent Indiana resident, Walsh patrols the county’s nearly 500-square miles, responds to dispatch and trains his fellow officers to meet the highly stressful demands of the job.

“What really drives me to do this job is that not everybody can do it. Not everybody’s cut out for it. I feel like I am,” Walsh said. “It’s hard to balance the physical and emotional strain that it puts on you. If you don’t have that deeper level of commitment of sacrificing your wellbeing for the greater good ... a lot of times people leave after a couple years.”

After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in psychology, Walsh worked with children at a psychiatric hospital and later with Child Protective Services and police during investigations. He then became a reserve deputy in 2006, serving in the role for two years before landing a permanent gig at the sheriff’s office in 2008.

“It was more of a culmination of being exposed to what law enforcement actually does,” he said. “It also fit my personality pretty well as far as being a protector and wanting to make people safe that aren’t able to protect themselves.”

Walsh spends most of his free time with his family and his dogs. He enjoys recreational shooting and training officers in his spare time, always keeping himself passionate and prepared to help anyone in what could be the worst moments they ever experience.

“They’re either being hurt or scared ... I can respond and make a difference,” he said. “The hardest part of the job is seeing the level of human suffering, just the awful things.

“There’s not a lot of talk about post-trauma effects in law enforcement,” he added. “It’s starting to become more of a topic but it’s something where police officers, firefighters, emergency medical people are exposed to everybody’s worst day in their lives over and over again. It’s the buildup of that, that really causes the damage.”

Preparing for the unknown is never easy, and those who serve and protect encounter uncertain situations daily. This is where Walsh excels. His education in psychology helps him condition his fellow officers for high-consequence decisions made at a moment’s notice.

It’s “better to be good than lucky,” he said.

“A lot of my training goes into decision making -— how do you make a good decision under stress?” he asked. “You throw yourself into an unknown situation that’s high stress, rapidly evolving, very dynamic, very high consequence, and you have to make a solid decision in a split moment to do the right thing. So I drive that concept forward: Make a plan now so that when you’re in the middle of it you don’t have to create a new plan.”

Furthermore, a post-interview with not just officers but all emergency personnel can be crucial to developing such plans, he said, as a sort of “debriefing” which can allow for further insight.

“‘What went right and what went wrong?’” he explained. “Just because nothing bad happened doesn’t mean we’re doing it right.”

While Walsh revels in the relative “quiet” of the Midwest, he admits suffering is present in every community. However, what is not present in every community is the close-knit feel and supportive attitude of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County.

“Barely a day goes by where somebody doesn’t say ‘thank you guys,’ ‘we appreciate you,’ stuff like that,” Walsh said. “It really does make a difference to us. It lets us know that our efforts aren’t unrecognized, that the community supports us and recognizes what we’re doing and wants to be a part of it to make the community better as a whole.

“That’s a big plus.”

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