Charles "Boots" Norris had a long career as a Daviess County sheriff's deputy starting in the late 1950s, and was elected sheriff himself in 1973. As sheriff, Norris brought a focus on professionalism to the sheriff's office.
"He believed no one would respect the office if we didn't respect it ourselves," Daviess County Sheriff Keith Cain said Friday.
Although he only served one term as sheriff, Norris left an impact that has been felt ever since.
"In that one term, he shaped the department into what it is today," Cain said.
Norris, who also served as Daviess County jailer, died Thursday. He was 85.
"I was the first person he hired when he took office," Cain said Friday. Norris "gave me my start in law enforcement. Boots was an icon in law enforcement. He was a constable, he was a deputy sheriff, he was sheriff and he was jailer for a while. But the one thing he was most proud of was being sheriff of Daviess County."
At the time Norris became sheriff, deputies were using their own vehicles, Cain said. Norris changed that (by purchasing used vehicles from the Kentucky State Police) and initiated a standard uniform for deputies to wear, Cain said.
Norris also established the office's criminal investigations division and narcotics units.
"Boots shaped the sheriff's office into the professional organization it has become," Cain said. "He started that."
Another young deputy Norris hired was Bruce Kuegel, who later went on to join the Kentucky State Police. Kuegel went on to law school and is now Daviess County commonwealth's attorney.
Norris "was 150% law enforcement," Kuegel said. "He was law enforcement through and through."
Kuegel said Norris was dedicated to maintaining the department's professionalism. As sheriff, Norris was compassionate and caring toward everyone he encountered, Kuegel said.
"He did what he thought was right, and treated people who worked for him the same way he expected them to treat everyone else," Kuegel said.
Norris' ability to connect with people was an asset to him as an investigator, Cain said.
"Boots solved a lot of high-profile cases nobody else could solve, simply because of his ability to communicate with people," Cain said. "They respected him. ... He obtained information that no one else could."
At times, Norris helped solve cases from outside Daviess County, because people would come to him with information.
"They knew they could trust him," Cain said.
After serving as sheriff, Norris served one term as Daviess County jailer. Later, Norris joined the Commonwealth's Attorney's office as a detective, under then Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Castlen. Even after he retired, Norris remained active in the law enforcement community, Kuegel said.
"He would help the FOP with cookouts," Kuegel said. "His presence meant a lot."
Kuegel said he was shocked to hear Norris had died.
"Boots and I maintained a friendship and contact over the years," Kuegel said. "... He was a good guy. He's going to be missed."
James Mayse, 270-691-7303, email@example.com, Twitter: @JamesMayse