Becky Herrin said she always knew she would pursue a degree in journalism. When pressed for reasons, she stated simply “Oh, it was about righting the wrongs.” (We apologize for the punny headline; we couldn’t resist.) The public information officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is stepping down at the end of this month after a 30-year career. The job is much more intricate than simply writing press releases on notable crimes in the Keys. She also facilitates internal communications, is the watchdog of the sheriff’s smartphone app and Facebook page, produces an annual report and fields calls from news outlets all over the world. (Who doesn’t love a wacky story about crazy Key West?)
“I was hired about the time most agencies were getting their first PIOs,” Herrin said. “In fact, I was the first person in this position.”
She’s also a certified deputy. When Billy Freeman was sheriff, he encouraged her to go through the police academy. He told her the cops would trust her more, and she would get a better understanding of the job.
Herrin came to the Keys on a road trip at the tender age of 23 from her home in Seattle after receiving a degree in journalism from the University of Washington.
Full name: Rebecca Page Herrin
Any nicknames? Becky
How long have you worked at MCSO? 30 years
Most challenging aspect of your job? Being on call, 24/7
Easiest part of your job? It is always interesting. Never the same thing twice.
Which law-enforcement event/crime/situation sticks out in your mind? There have been way too many to count. Funny and sad. The saddest standout was probably the murder of Michael and Missy McIvor in Tavernier in 1992. The funniest: the naked drunk guy, yelling “I’m king of the world” on Big Coppitt Key, and the woman who was shaving her pubic area as she drove her car at Bahia Honda. But there have been so many of these things …
After the retirement party, what’s the first thing you do? I don’t do parties much. I do love to travel. I will be doing that all of April and part of May.
Number one lesson from Hurricane Irma? The ability to communicate with the outside world during a crisis like that is a tenuous thing, and the need to is vital. We have to figure out how to do better at it in the future.
Dream meal: you are sitting at a diner counter eating; who walks in and sits next to you? I am a huge introvert, so I actually prefer to eat alone with a really good book. My favorite books are the Lord of the Rings series … so how about J.R.R. Tolkien, if he was still alive. I would like to talk to him about his writing process.
Favorite Keysy thing to do? Read a book by the pool on a beautiful winter day.
Which TV or movie character is your alter ego? I don’t watch a lot of TV.
Favorite guilty pleasure? Stouffer’s Macaroni and Cheese.
What did you want to be when you grew up? A newspaper journalist and that is what my college degree is in.
Finish these sentences …
My replacement, Adam Lindhardt, is … a fast learner.
Cops get mad when … people don’t report crime when it happens. And when people are stupid.
My family would describe me as … a level-headed, intelligent, self-sufficient pain in the butt.
The Keys are like … a small town; I like that. I have a hard time with the fact that it is hard to get away from here easily. I need the variety of a city and it takes so very long to reach anywhere from here.
I live by the motto … Don’t get too attached to anything, and always be self-sufficient. If you like yourself, and like to spend time with yourself, you will always be OK.