After 45 years in law enforcement, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Bill Hough is retiring and ready to spend more time with his family. He said he feels it’s time to make up for all the sacrifices his family has made for him to serve the public over the years.

Bill Hough grew up walking along the streams of Pennsylvania casting a fly and catching trout.

Trout fishing is on the agenda this spring for Hough as he is retiring as a lieutenant this week from the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department after 45 years in law enforcement. But catching a speckled trout is not the only thing Hough plans to do. He wants to pay back his family for the special moments he missed while serving the public.

“Every law enforcement officer makes sacrifices,” Hough said. “There are birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, ballgames and more given up. I think it is time for me to make up for the sacrifices my family has made to allow me to serve the public. It is time for me to pay them back while I’m still healthy.”

Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said Hough can not be replaced.

“He has been very vital to the department,” Abbett said. “We are a small law enforcement agency but he has been instrumental in guiding us to be a model. You can’t teach experience. He will be sorely missed.”

Hough dreams of chasing grandchildren and catching trout but for the last 45 years the chase has been to keep evil off the streets. Hough said no one case stands out above others in his career but he has a special affinity for seeing those who take advantage of the young and old prosecuted.

“I think all cases are about the same,” Hough said. “There will always be a victim and family out there that is special. It is especially hard when you see children and the elderly exploited over the internet.”

While Hough has only been with Abbett and the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department for 25 years, his entire career has been spent in law enforcement. He got his start in the Air Force serving in its law enforcement division. Hough served in Turkey, Pennsylvania, Florida and Alabama.  

While serving at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Hough was approaching 20 years in the Air Force as a non-commissioned officer in charge (NCOIC) of investigations when he enrolled in the Montgomery Police Academy to become Alabama Peace Officers’ Standards and Training Commission (APOST) certified easing into civilian life.

Hough joined Abbett’s team of deputies in 1995 and quickly became a DARE officer helping with crime prevention – a program Abbett and Hough helped build in Tallapoosa County Schools.

“He was our first DARE training officer,” Abbett said.

The program was limited when Hough started. The Dadeville Police Department had it in the Dadeville schools but it grew.

“I was the DARE officer for all three county schools,” Hough said. “With Sheriff Abbett’s help, it has grown. We have a school resource officer in every county school. It’s a great program. It allows one-on-one contact with students.”

Bringing DARE to the sheriff’s department was a small change but Hough said technology has greatly improved since his beginning days with Abbett.

“We thought we were high tech when we got a bag phone,” Hough said. “We had Polaroid cameras and typewriters when I started. Now there’s computers and digital cameras.”

The tech world is where the next generation of criminals are growing and Hough has already won battles.

“He has excelled at cyber crimes,” Abbett said. “He has worked numerous high-profile cases and is considered an expert in cyber crimes.”

Hough is part of the statewide Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and a member of the federal task force dealing with similar crimes. The information is valuable to not only prosecute criminals but also provide education for the public. But Hough is not one to take much credit. 

“The goal has always been to provide a safe community for the citizens,” Hough said. “Sheriff Abbett has allowed us to better protect our children and provide education to parents of the dangers associated with the internet.

“I appreciate all the work from everyone at the department. They don’t hear it enough. I want to thank them for the opportunity to work for such a dedicated and professional organization.”

Hough has been over investigations for the sheriff’s department and even though his retirement will leave a big void, Abbett has been planning for the transition.

“We have been talking windows of retirement for a while,” Abbett said. “It was no surprise. We have promoted someone through the process, Lt. Ray Arrington. He was a sergeant in patrol. He has been mirroring Hough to get acclimated to the position.”

Hough’s replacement is in order but Abbett is not going to let Hough go out unnoticed. Abbett is welcoming the community to come by the sheriff’s department noon Dec. 27 in Dadeville.

“We will honor him at the office,” Abbett said. “We invite the community to come join us.”

Don’t be surprised if you see Hough still in uniform even though he is retired.

“I plan to stay involved in law enforcement,” Hough said. “It might be on a part-time basis. I just don’t have it figured out yet.”

One thing Hough has figured out is his plans for the next few months. While he was tight lipped about most of his retirement plans, they include spending time with his grandchildren, traveling with his family and casting his fly in the rivers and streams of Yellowstone and Pennsylvania soon.

“I’ve tried hooking these bass around here,” Hough said. “It’s OK, but there is just something special about a trout on the end of a line.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.