November 02, 2008

Fighting gamecock

  Deputy Jeffcoat has an uncanny way of dealing with rowdy prisoners. Jeffcoat is a big guy, but he doesn't rely on his bulk to control prisoners. Instead, Jeffcoat deals with roughnecks by using imagination and common sense, blended with his fine-tuned sense of humor.

  Old time jailers say it's not unusual for prisoners to thank Jeffcoat for his courtesy after the booking process. Here's what makes Deputy Jeffcoat so different.

  Everybody in the county knows Jeffcoat is a fierce University of South Carolina football fan. Frequently, on game day, the Lexington County sheriff's deputy will drive around with a live chicken on the front seat of his patrol car. It may be a bit messy at times, but Jeffcoat manages to keep his patrol car spotlessly clean.

  Jeffcoat's chicken is a rooster — a Rhode Island Red. Now, this is not a true "fighting gamecock" like the USC football team's mascot, but it's "close enough for government work," Jeffcoat likes to tell people.

  If a prisoner is inclined to be a bit on the combative side, Jeffcoat flips the red rooster onto the back seat. (This is before protective metal security screens were used in patrol cars.) Jeffcoat always tells the prisoner that the chicken is special — a purebred "fighting gamecock." Who's to say otherwise?

  Having gotten the prisoner's attention, Jeffcoat goes on to explain: "He doesn't know you — so if you move around too much, the little guy will very likely peck one of your eyes out."

  After that disclaimer, prisoners rarely move, except to breathe — and then ever so gently. The prisoner will remain quiet for the entire ride to the county jail, hoping to arrive at the lockup with both eyes still in his head.

  There's no telling how many patrol car skirmishes Jeffcoat's would-be "fighting gamecock" may have prevented.

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