Longtime jail officer retires
BLACKFOOT — Today marks Bingham County Deputy Larry Christian's 60th birthday, his last day of work in the Bingham County Jail and almost the beginning of his retirement.
Christian is the first person who started his career working in the Bingham County Jail and retired from that same facility.
"I love my job," Christian said. "It's a good fit for me."
Christian started in law enforcement after someone stole a pair of boots from his store, the Hirsch Value Center, located by White Eagle.
"I ran after him, dragged him by his feet out of the bar and took off the boots," Christian said.
The policeman who responded asked if I had dragged the guy out of the bar and suggested I should consider going into law enforcement.
Christian's store was "a lot like Beall's," Hirsch Value Center, became Falk's ID before the company went belly up. Christian had the store 13 years.
His sojourn into law enforcement started as part of the city reserve where he worked for six-and-one-half years.
"I started working in the jail in August 1987, after the new courthouse was completed," he said.
Christian has served under four sheriffs— Leroy Nelson, John Cowley, Doyle Holm and Dave Johnson—and been in four different positions. He has worked in the jail for 23 years 4 months.
Christian has worked with the Short Stop program since it started here In 1994. Short Stop is for first-time juvenile offenders from ages 11 to 18.
"I mentor them so they will grow up and become adults that don't get into trouble," Christian said.
Classes meet for three hours on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month.
"Mine's the uncomfortable [class]," Christian said. "I explain what they can expect if they go to jail.
"I use the experiences I've had," he said. "I don't lie to them."
"I make their parents uncomfortable but I tell them, 'your kids picked this situation.'"
Eight to 14 kids are in the Short Stop program each month.
Short Stop is a franchised program started in Orange County, Calif., in 1981. Bannock, Bingham and Bonneville counties purchased the program. Bannock and Bingham are still using the program.
Christian has known successes through the program. One young man is attending ISU, wanting to work with the Forest Service. Another works in Washington state in computers/graphics art for Disney.
"It's been a nice run working for the sheriff's program," Christian said.
Christian has worked as a sergeant twice, both up and down on his way to being a lieutenant. He was the jail administrator for a number of years and has worked the past five or six years as a transport officer.
Last week, he brought a prisoner from Georgia; two weeks ago, he was in Las Vegas transporting a prisoner to Bingham County.
"I say I'm on work release," Christian said. "I work and, at the end of the day, they release me.
"You need to learn to be able to walk away from work," he said. "Don't bring problems home.
"It's like wearing a coat in the jail; at night, take the coat off.
"You develop a warped sense of humor to keep you going," Christian said.
"It's a great job," he said. "There's no lack of employment; no lay-offs and you really have to screw up to get canned."
Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Andrew said, "Larry is always reliable in terms of getting our people here; he has worked really well transporting people who are mentally ill.
"It does make a difference how people are transported," Andrew said. "Larry lends a calming effect to people who are in less than ideal circumstances. I'll miss his reliability, his calm demeanor and his working with kids in Short Stop."
"He's done an excellent job," said Sheriff Johnson. "He has a lot of knowledge and experience; he will be hard to replace.
"He's been a good employee," Johnson said. "He's going to be missed."
"I love my job; it's going to be hard [to retire] but it's time," said Christian.
In Blackfoot, Christian is perhaps better known as Santa Claus. He has been portraying the jolly fellow for 47 or 48 years.
"I've been through five or six Santa outfits," Christian said. He has appeared as Santa at family parties, churches, in the jail and juvenile detention. He's also traveled to other locations to be Santa.
He is active in the Masons and for the past 10 years, he has been part of the Blackfoot Community Players. He was also an associate guardian for Job's Daughters for a number of years.
Christian and his wife, Clyde, have a son and daughter and five grandchildren.
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