Editor’s note: The following is the first of a six-part series.
COLUMBIA CITY — A father, a husband and the cheif deputy of the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department. Marcus Gatton, 41, has more than one duty — he’s the second in command to the sheriff, a youth league baseball coach in the summer for his two sons, and a lifepartner to his wife of 16 years.
“We’ve always had a strong family,” Kay Gatton, Marc’s wife, said.
For the sheriff’s department, Gatton has command duties such as reviewing reports, scheduling deputies, employee evaluations, public relations and supervisor over the jail commander. He also has a role outside of the office, filling holes in the schedule and responding to major incidents, such as this month’s shooting in Larwill.
“You just don’t know what’s going to happen each day,” Gatton said. “I might have to leave at anytime.”
That’s something his wife and sons have gotten used to over the years.
Gatton has missed birthdays, holidays, choir concerts and school performances as he’s worked to balance his duties as a family man and servant to the community.
“The boys know he’d be there if he could be,” Kay said. “They know what their dad is doing is very important.”
Kay said family vacations make up for his time lost.
“We like to take vacations and get away,” Kay said. “He needs to get away from the job too. It’s a stressful job and we all have to be understanding of that.”
Gatton first became involved in police work in 1994 as a reserve with the sheriff’s department. The next year he was hired in the jail, and in 1997 he became Deputy Gatton.
He took on the role of chief deputy in 2006 — one that was much different from his job on the road.
“It was tough getting pinned down to a desk” Gatton said.
“In the beginning it was a bit of a struggle. I have really grown to enjoy this now.”
Gatton has many plans for improvement of the department, from smaller things like creating a more organized training schedule for the deputies, to leading the department as the sheriff.
“My big vision is to become sheriff of this department” Gatton said.
“I want to leave this county a better place for my kids and the rest of the community.”