February 29, 2012 - After 40 years of making the Clarkston area safe, Lt. Dale LaBair is ready to ride off into the sunset, heading for the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
Lt. Dale LaBair, who joined Oakland County Sheriff’s Office in 1972, is ready to retire. Photo by Phil Custodio (click for larger version)
LaBair, commander of Oakland County Sheriff's Independence Township substation, plans to retire this year and move to Greenback, Tenn., with his wife, Lisa, and daughter Lauren, where they already own property.
"My wife is getting antsy to move," he said. "We like the area– it's a good, middle of the road place with a nice climate, overlooking the foothills of the Smokies."
LaBair joined Oakland County Sheriff Office in 1972, when Sheriff Frank Irons was in charge.
"I was two days from being 22 years old – I was probably one of the youngest there," he said. "I was interested in it, and I knew they liked military people."
He was in the U.S. Army Reserves, joining in 1970. At the time, deputies assigned to north Oakland County patrolled large areas.
"We went everywhere. Springfield Township, Groveland Township, Holly – that would be all one car,"he said. "It was pretty crazy but a lot of fun."
Crime seems to be less, but they stayed busy dealing with bar fights, brawls, and big field parties – all with nothing but a six-shooter, nightstick, and radio in the car.
"It was a little wilder," he said. "Deputies had a lot more authority. They were the law."
Through the years, he also worked undercover investigating narcotics crimes, laboratory and range work, special investigations, records, and jail administration.
"They treated me well," he said. "It's been a good job for me, I enjoy it."
He was named substation commander in 1995, his first command.
"And I've been here ever since," he said. "I've had good people to work with. They made the job fun."
One of the highlights was attending the FBI National Academy in Virginia in 2007.
"It was very prestigious, I enjoyed it," he said.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.