Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson speaks to a crowd gathered in the main lobby of the Jefferson County Courthouse to honor Capt. Bernard Adams at a reception for his retirement from the sheriff’s office Monday. Special to The Commercial/William Harvey
Capt. Bernard Adams listens to remarks made during a reception for his retirement from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Monday.
Jefferson County Sheriff Department Capt. Bernard Adams listens as J. Thomas May, chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Corp., speaks of the admiration and respect for Adams during his retirement reception at the Jefferson County Courthouse Monday. Special to The Commercial/William Harvey
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Bernard Adams hugs J. Thomas May, chairman and CEO of Simmons First National Corp., during Adams’ retirement reception at the Jefferson County Courthouse Monday. Special to The Commercial/William Harvey
After more than 35 years of chasing down suspects, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Capt. Bernard Adams is turning the job over to someone else.
Adams, who is known as “The Bloodhound” for his uncanny ability to find people who don’t want to be found, officially retired Monday and was given a send-off by the sheriff’s department, county and city officials and members of the community in the lobby of the county courthouse.
“He’s a legend in our community and there’s not too much I can say that people don’t already know,” said Sheriff Gerald Robinson.
Robinson said Adams started work at the sheriff’s department in July 1977 was promoted to sergeant in 1988, to lieutenant in 1994, and to captain in 1997.
“He’s had an extensive career in fugitive apprehension,” Robinson said.
The sheriff also said he and Adams were distantly related but “I didn’t get the genes he has to run down fugitives.”
Before joining the sheriff’s department, Adams worked for the Arkansas Department of Correction, first as a correctional officer, then as a sergeant in the transportation section, and finally as a shift lieutenant at Cummins Prison. He left the prison system June 30, 1977, and the following day joined the sheriff’s department.
Both County Judge Mike Holcomb and Pine Bluff Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. were on hand at the ceremony, proclaiming Monday as “Captain Bernard C. Adams Day” in Jefferson County and Pine Bluff.
“We came to the sheriff’s department about two weeks apart and worked for (the late sheriff) Dub Brassell,” Holcomb said. “We were in our mid-20s and things were quite a bit different. We wanted to be in on everything.”
“There were a few chases and in our mid-20s, we knew if they ever got out of the car and got on foot, we could chase them down,” Holcomb said.
Redus said Adams was “going to start a new career and start his own reality show called The Real Bounty Hunter because he always gets his man.”
“He’s got contacts all over the nation and if you want to catch somebody, Bernard is the guy that can do it,” Redus said.
In addition to bringing a Certificate of Appreciation from the Arkansas State Senate, state Sen. Stephanie Flowers (D-Pine Bluff), whose offices are across the street from the courthouse, said she knew “Adams loved his job and he did it well.”
Flowers also said she felt safer going into her office because she knew Adams was nearby and “he always had a smile on his face.”
Assistant U.S. Marshal Mike Koberlin, who is based in Pine Bluff, has worked with Adams for six years.
“They told me when I came down here, if I wanted to get into fugitive investigation, grab Bernard Adams’ shirttails and don’t let go,” Koberlein said.
J. Thomas May, chairman and chief executive officer for Simmons First National Corp., said Adams always “led by example and always gave credit to his team.”
“Thank you for your service to our community and (pulling a dollar bill out of his pocket) I’m going to give you something near and dear to my heart, a dollar bill,” May said. “And if the FBI and the Treasury are not here, I will autograph it for you later.”
Major Tyra Tyler, assistant administrator at the W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center, credited Adams for being able to identify fugitives by sight.
“Capt. Adams is the only person I know that can drive down the street, stay in his lane, and turn around and point to a person a block back and say ‘he’s got a warrant.’”
Robinson reiterated Adams’ importance to the area.
“There are certain people in this community that have an effect on the community. Tommy May is one. Chuck Morgan (president of Pine Bluff National Bank) is one and Bernard Adams is one and we’re going to feel that effect when he’s gone. He can’t be beat,” Robinson said.
Chief Deputy Sheriff and Jail Administrator Greg Bolin described Adams as a good friend.
“We’ve gone across the country together on extraditions and I don’t think a book could detail everything he’s done,” Bolin said. “I’m going to miss you a lot.”
Adams also received a plaque from Gov. Mike Beebe’s office and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Adams said while he is retiring, he’s not going to stay gone forever.
“I think the sheriff’s department has plans for me,” he said.
“Right now, I’m going to take some time off to relax, do some traveling, and get in more fishing,” Adams said. “I thank God that I have worked for one of the best sheriff’s offices in the state of Arkansas and worked with some of the best people around.”
“I want the people of Jefferson County to know how much I love everyone of them for the help and support they’ve given me for the past 35 and-a-half years and if I do come back, as long as I’ve got breath in my body, I’m, going to do my best to serve them,” Adams said.
Although he’s out of the fugitive catching business, Adams said he’s still getting calls from other agencies both in state and out of state asking for help.
“I guess they hadn’t gotten the word yet,” he said. “I’m referring them to Capt. (Larry) Gragg, (who is replacing Adams) because I’m retired.”