April 10, 2011

Fighting gamecock

  Deputy Jeffcoat had an uncanny way of dealing with rowdy prisoners. Jeffcoat was a big guy, but he didn’t rely on his bulk to handle those he arrested. Instead, Jeffcoat dealt with rowdy prisoners by using imagination and common sense, blended with a fine-tuned sense of humor.
  Old time jailers say it wasn’t unusual for prisoners to  thank Jeffcoat for his courtesy after the booking process. Here’s what made Deputy Jeffcoat so different.
  Everybody in the county knew Jeffcoat was a fierce University of South Carolina sports fan. Frequently, on game days, the deputy would drive around with a chicken on the front seat of his patrol car. A bit messy at times, but he kept his patrol car spotlessly clean.
  Jeffcoat’s chicken was a rooster—a Rhode Island Red. Now, this was not a true “fighting gamecock” like the USC football team’s mascot, but it was “close enough for government work,” the deputy would tell people.
  If a prisoner was inclined to be a bit on the combative side, Jeffcoat would flip the rooster onto the back seat. This was before protective metal security screens were used in patrol cars. Jeffcoat would tell the prisoner that the chicken was special—a purebred “fighting gamecock.”
  Having gotten the prisoner’s attention, Jeffcoat would go on to explain: “He doesn’t know you—so if you move around too much, the little guy will probably peck one of your eyes out.”
  After that disclaimer, the prisoner would scarcely move, except to breathe—and then ever so gently. The prisoner would 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 averted.

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