(HOUSTON, TX) – Sheriff Adrian Garcia will present Deputy Effie Louise Skinner her retirement badge on Tuesday, August 31 for her 35 years of service to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).
Deputy Skinner joined the HCSO on March 3, 1975. She was 27 years old. At the time Skinner had been working as a secretary at the Houston Police Department’s (HPD) academy when she decided she wanted to become a police officer. “I could either join HPD or the HCSO,” recalls Skinner, “but I was too short for HPD, so I came to apply at Harris County,” says the 5-foot tall deputy. HPD’s height requirement at the time was 5’7” – the HCSO had no height requirement.
Since graduating from the HCSO Academy in ’75 as a “matron” (only males were referred to as deputies), Deputy Skinner has worked at the Inmate Processing Center, booking and releasing inmates. ‘Everything I’ve done here I’ve enjoyed,” says Skinner. “But the best thing I’ve liked is interacting with the inmates. If you help one you’ve done well because you can’t help everybody.”
A lot has changed at the HCSO since 1975 when Jack Heard was the sheriff. There have been three sheriffs since then, and female deputies are no longer required to wear skirts or shoulder purses where they carried their weapon, handcuffs and ammunition – all thanks to Deputy Skinner. In 1976, Deputy Skinner went to work an extra job at a local mall but was turned away because she was wearing a skirt. She asked then Sheriff Heard if she could wear pants and a gun belt instead because she needed the extra money, and he said yes.
Deputy Skinner, who turns 64 today, looks forward to having more time to do things for herself. “First thing I’m gonna do is throw the alarm clock away and then take a vacation,” she says with a laugh.