Learning A Lifelong Pastime For Undersheriff

PAYSON PEOPLE

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The undersheriff in Payson for Gila County has been an emergency medical technician, still holds a commercial pilot's license and scuba dives for recreation and as part of his job.

If there was an opportunity for training, Adam Shepherd took advantage of it.

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Adam Shepherd

"I earned my EMT at the college here and my associate degree here in 1998," he said.

"I want to really thank everybody for keeping up the good fight. I was in classes where there was just one other student and I know it didn't pay their bills, but it allowed me to get my degree and transfer to Northern Arizona University."

Inadvertently, EMT training caused Shepherd's path to cross with a young EMT -- a beautiful dark-haired woman.

"We got chummy," he said, then grinned. "How long have we been married? Well, Jessica and I just had this argument the other day. I said 22. She said 20."

On May 5, the couple will celebrate 21 years together.

A career in law enforcement

The summer after graduation from Payson High School, Shepherd went to work as a volunteer dispatcher for the Payson Police Department.

Other business interests took Shepherd back to the Valley, but he moved back to Payson permanently in 1983.

That was the year Gordon Gartner (the current police chief) offered the first police academy for people interested in town or county law enforcement careers. Officer (now Sgt.) Todd Bramlet encouraged Shepherd to enroll as a police cadet.

He did, and upon graduation, was hired by the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

"I love my job because it is different every day," he said. "There are always new challenges."

Shepherd is equally as comfortable in the air as he is on land or underwater.

When he worked in the narcotics division, he logged airtime for the county, as he already had his pilot's license.

Shepherd joined Gila County's dive team in 1988 and was an assistant Search and Rescue coordinator for Gila County at that time.

One of his toughest dives happened four or five years ago in Redman Cave on the east side of the county near Young.

At the bottom of the cave there is a pool of water.

Two spelunkers had been in the cave the summer before when the water level was not as high.

"This time it was full of water," Shepherd said. "They still tried to go in it.

"As a matter of fact, they had to go through passages that were submerged under water. They got disoriented.

"One made it out and one did not."

Because of the danger, Shepherd navigated through the passageway and into the pool on the end of a twelve-foot rope held by another diver.

"Stretching out laterally and reaching out with the end of my toes I finally felt the victim," he said.

"You start to get a little old for the risky stuff," Shepherd said.

As undersheriff, his impact is more on the deputies than the public he came into contact with in the field.

By this summer's end, he will have served with the department 23 years.

Profile

Hometown: Phoenix

Age: 45

Occupation: Undersheriff of Payson with Gila County Sheriff's office

When did you move to Payson and what brought you here? My grandfather built cabins up here in 1967 and the family owned a business (Shepherd Brothers gas station on the southwest corner of Beeline and Bonita.) We were living in Peoria and our home was burgled, so my dad said, "That's it." I finished my last two years of high school at Payson High School. I graduated in 1979.

What is the biggest risk you have taken? Everything in law enforcement is a risk.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Work hard and be honest.

Three things you want people to know about you: I am fun-loving, easygoing and trustworthy.

Favorites:

Authors: Michael Creighton, Robert Ludlum

Music: ‘60s and ‘70s rock 'n' roll

Food: Just about anything that doesn't eat me first.

Sport to watch: Football

Recreational activities: Riding my Harley or my ATV, scuba diving, boating with my family.

Vacation spot: The Caribbean

Television: I am a Star Trek fan.

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