Det. Jason Ehrhart talks about being a police officer
Detective Jason Ehrhart, with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, has been a police officer for 16 years.
Ehrhart works in the Major Crimes Unit, and his work includes tackling cases involving organized retail crime. Ehrhart also has experience on the Hostage Negotiation Team and was one of the people who was involved in the barricade situation on Bond Street in Westminster in August 2015.
The Times caught up with Ehrhart to talk about his role at the sheriff's office and what he likes to do when he's not at work.
Q: Why did you decide to go into law enforcement?
A: I went into law enforcement out of the spirit of service and adventure. In addition, law enforcement is similar to athletics in that it requires you to use both your mind and body. It makes both cerebral and physical demands.
Q: What has been some of the best parts of the job? The most challenging?
A: The best part of the job is the opportunity to be creative and improvisational. People are a mixed bag, rarely is anything merely black and white. This creates opportunities where we can be creative in problem solving. With all of the gray areas in life, the ability to improvise and be creative is invaluable.
This holds true not just for patrol officers, but investigators as well. Real police work is not like police work depicted on television. On television you rarely, if ever, see the bureaucracy. Dealing with the bureaucracy is probably the most challenging aspect of the job.
Q: What is one thing you want people to know about being a deputy?
A: We are regular people trying to do a difficult job.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a deputy?
A: A lot of people want a career that matters. We all have to work, but if we're being honest, most of us want that work to mean something and make a difference. The incredible responsibility that comes with being a police deputy — you have a duty to act at all times, whether on or off duty — is a reward in and of itself. It means that what we do make a difference, and that's a really great feeling, even if it feels like a heavy burden at times.
Q: What is a typical work day like for you?
A: Well, first let me say that my typical day probably has more in common with your own day than it does with [New York City] television Detective Danny Reagan who solves cases, arrests the bad guy and still has Sunday dinner with his family, all of which happens in 42 minutes plus commercials.
My work day starts at 7 a.m. and usually ends around 3 p.m. As a detective, I share one night a week, and one weekend a month in an 'on call' capacity. When I arrive at work, I check my emails, and then I review incidents which happened since I left the previous day. I am looking for bits of information which may be relevant to one of the cases I am working on. I spend a lot of time searching databases, and talking with people who may or may not have information about the incident I am investigating.
The hard part about my workday is finding a good time to stop what I'm doing for the day. I put in a lot of time at home on cases that I am working. Since becoming a police officer 16 years ago, I have definitely improved my typing skills since everything we do requires in-depth, lengthy investigative reports.
Q: What is one moment on the job you'll never forget?
A: It's difficult to sum up one moment of my career that I will never forget. I have many hysterical stories where truth is stranger than fiction, and then I have stories that I keep to myself. Being an American law enforcement professional is by far my most demanding and rewarding endeavor.
Q: What is an embarrassing story or a fact you are willing to share about yourself?
A: I am the world's worst procrastinator. I live by a philosophy that hard work often pays off over time, but laziness always pays off now. If my girlfriend had a dollar for each time I said, 'I'll do it tomorrow,' she could retire this year as a very wealthy woman. For some reason, I have it in my head that whatever project or chore I'm tasked with will be easier or quicker if I do it tomorrow. I know, it makes no sense.
Q: When you are out of uniform, what do you like to do?
A: I like to think I am the same guy on duty that I am off duty. My favorite passion is barbecuing. If it runs, flies, swims or grows out of the ground, chances are I have grilled it. I cook to my taste so I experiment with different seasonings, marinades and brines. I love North Carolina-style barbecue so many of my flavor profiles use a lot of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar.
I've always wanted to compete in a competition but so far, I just haven't had the opportunity. Last year, we started making our own deer bologna, and this year, we've worked out the recipe kinks. I'll have to let you know how it turns out.
Q: What television shows do you have on your DVR right now? What was the last movie you watched?
A: Well, I don't have satellite or cable so I don't have a DVR. I watch a lot of antenna television and Netflix. I am an awful Netflix binge episode watcher. I'll get wrapped up in a series, and I'll say to myself, 'Just one more episode to see what happens,' and before I know it I just watched four more episodes. Some of my favorite Netflix programs are 'House of Cards,' 'The Crown' and 'Making a Murderer.'
Q: What is something you like to talk about outside of work?
A: I love the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Orioles. Each time we go to an O's game, we try to get a picture with Buck Showalter. … I'm a news junkie so I like to talk about current events and what is going on around me. I have two kids, one in middle school and the other is in high school. I couldn't have asked for two better kids.
We have two rescued dogs. Dino is our chocolate Labrador-pitbull mix, and Lucy is our beagle-pitbull mix. Dino is highly intelligent, and he easily gets into mischief. Lucy is a docile dog who is always searching for a more comfortable sofa to sleep on. If I've learned anything from our two dogs, it is to bark less and wag more.