Todd Dalton has accomplished a lot in his time in law enforcement.
But there's still one position behind the badge that he wants.
Sheriff of his native Pulaski County.
"I was born and raised here, and my heart' is here," Dalton told the Commonwealth Journal. "(I'm interested in) serving people, just getting to know people and making our neighborhoods safer. That would mean a great deal to me."
Dalton has been commander of Kentucky State Police Post 11 in neighboring London since 2014. He effectively retired from that position last Friday.
Before that, he worked internal affairs in Frankfort after receiving a promotion to the rank of captain in 2013.
In 1996, he came to Post 11 where he worked his native Pulaski County area as a road trooper before being promoted to detective, as which his first criminal investigation was the murder of Pulaski Sheriff Sam Catron in 2002.
"I kept that quiet from the defense attorneys — that it was my first murder case — because I didn't want them to know my lack of experience," Dalton told the London Sentinel-Echo. "But with the help of other detectives, we were able to identify and prosecute the three suspects and they were put in prison."
Dalton added that the task was accomplished in a “timely manner,” but cannot help but look back on that point in his career with pained memories.
“It was a very crucial part of my career, probably my most stressful time as a state police officer,” he told the Commonwealth Journal in 2014, “just due to the magnitude of the case and the importance of everything that went on during that time.”
Dalton has also worked in Bowling Green as a KSP sergeant and as lieutenant for the Drug Enforcement/Special Investigations Unit. After graduating from his cadet class in 1989, he worked for the Harlan KSP post, primarily serving Bell County.
"I served my nation for four years in the Air Force and served my state for 31 years," said Dalton. "It's time to come home and serve my county if I'm elected."
Dalton grew up in Bronston, Ky., and attended Burnside High School, part of the school’s final class in 1981 before it consolidated. He's maintained a residence in the area when he was able to, and the opportunity to serve his community as sheriff is a meaningful one for him.
"That's something I want to do," he said. "I've got a lot of people wanting me to run."
A key factor is that incumbent Greg Speck is not expected by Dalton to run again for sheriff in 2022. Speck has served in the position since 2015, having been elected the previous year, and also has a KSP background.
"If (Speck) was running, I wouldn't run against him," said Dalton. "I think Greg has done a good job. I just hope to continue that tradition."
Without Speck, "It will be a wide-open field," added Dalton.
In the role of Sheriff of Pulaski County, there "is always going to be a high emphasis on drug crimes and property crimes and trying to bring some of the local thieves to justice," said Dalton. "There's nothing more infuriating to an honest person than to have their hard-earned property stolen by someone else. If you've ever been a victim of a crime, you know what I'm talking about."
Indeed, Dalton himself had his truck broken into a couple of years ago, and still recalls the inconvenience this unexpected criminal development posed for him.
"If we could slow these types of things down, it would be a plus," he said.
He also said he wouldn't make major changes to the sheriff's office, were he elected, and wouldn't run it like a state police post: "Those are two different animals."
He called his time serving Pulaski with KSP a "great honor," and noted working "alongside some really good troopers" over the years, many of whom have already retired or moved on in their careers.
However, "I'm still young," said the 56-year-old Dalton. "I still have a passion for law enforcement."
Dalton isn't taking anything for granted, and is going to take some time to enjoy retirement before throwing himself onto the campaign life — perhaps spend some time fishing, as he's a competitive crappie fisherman with an eye on the National Championship this fall in Branson, Missouri.
"The political climate and COVID and all the other things going on in the world, I want to spend some time with my family," he told the Sentinel-Echo.
But when he's ready — and if he's chosen by the people, as he's quick to note as a caveat — Dalton is looking forward to the privilege of being sheriff of his home county.
"I'm going to take a break and rejuvenate my soul," he said, "and in a couple of years, if I'm elected, I'm going to hit the ground running. I'll be ready."