Col. Mel Seboe, 45 years with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, and still going
It’s a job that has lasted.
Col. Mel Seboe joined the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department in January of 1973. He has continued to serve his community since.
In May, Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon awarded Seboe for serving 45 consecutive years with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.
Seboe has served in many different capacities since his first days as a deputy. He holds the title for most decorated, and longest-serving employee the department has ever had. He said things have changed drastically throughout his years of service. But one thing that’s stayed the same is his enjoyment of the job.
When Seboe first began his career in law enforcement, he said there were a total of 17 employees in the department (there are now 520), and seven patrol cars. “Most deputies used their own privately owned vehicles as their patrol car,” he said. “The Sheriff’s Department put gas in it, but anything else you funded yourself. If you wanted a gun or a uniform, you had to provide that yourself.”
Seboe mentioned there were just two walkie-talkies for communication. “You had to go to somebody’s place to call headquarters to ask for backup,” he said. “If they couldn’t get anyone, you would be told no help is available.” Fortunately, Seboe said the Sheriff at the time requested more supplies for the department, and they were received within the year.
When asked about all the “fun” or “amusing” stories he’s experienced throughout the years, there was one that particularly stuck out to Seboe. He said it’s the story behind why he carries a revolver, while other deputies carry semi-automatic hand guns.
He was assigned to the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearm Task Force in 1973, and he said around that time, the substance of abuse in the Midlands was moonshine liquor. He was alone looking for one of the liquor stills south of Swansea.
“While I was out in the woods, four wild hogs started chasing me, they literally chased me up a tree,” he said. “At that time, I was carrying a Smith and Wesson 38 revolver. I shot the six rounds I had with me, and it just made them mad – it did not kill the hogs.” He said after about three hours the hogs dispersed, and he ran back to his car. After telling Sheriff Lewis McCarty about his experience, he said the sheriff ordered him a Smith and Wesson 44 magnum revolver. “I have carried it ever since,” he said.
Seboe mentioned at the end of his oath when he first began, it included a phrase after the terms of employment that said, “and other duties as assigned.” Some of those duties have included beginning the first ever bloodhound/man-hunting team in Lexington County, and being the first to start the county’s bomb squad. “The last time I was in re-certification for bomb school, instructors told me I’m the oldest and longest-serving FBI certified bomb technician in the world,” said Seboe.
One piece of advice Seboe offered for new officers is to try to spend time with their families as much as they can. “In the 45-plus years I’ve been in law enforcement, I have been at home on Christmas Eve for 13 years,” he said. “If you have the opportunity, remember your family first.”
Is Seboe thinking of retirement? He doesn’t seem to be entertaining the idea just yet. “I still think it’s fun to come to work. I guess when they get tired of me, or I get tired of it – we’ll stop.”
Seboe currently serves as the department’s Fleet Manager, and still participates with the bomb squad.