Meet Agriculture Inspector Mark White

cb-12-1-deputy-whiteAgriculture Investigator Mark White is cut from a different cloth. He’s not into the big city life, he likes the slower pace of a small town, he prefers boots and jeans to dress clothes and his message is clear – he loves Hendry County and he loves working in law enforcement.

Investigator White is married to his wife, Melanie. Together they are raising their family in Hendry County. He enjoys going out on airboats and hunting with friends and family. He is also enjoys watching his kids and the community’s kids participate in various sports.

Investigator White grew up in Felda. He is a fourth generation Hendry County native. He graduated from LaBelle High School in 1994, and took a job afterwards working for D.R. Rogers in Felda for a couple of years. He later went to work for Raymond Building Supply for nearly eight years. During this time he was also enrolled at Edison Community College.

However, something wasn’t clicking. White always had a desire to go into law enforcement but stated that “he didn’t get the push he needed” to take the plunge. He just didn’t know enough about where to get started and how to immerse himself into that world. At 33 years old, White took the plunge and decided to enroll in the police academy at SWFL Criminal Justice Academy. He is a now a certified Law Enforcement Officer and Ag Investigator.

When he began his employment with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department in December of 2009, White spent his first two years as a road patrol deputy. Although he enjoyed patrolling the roadways, he was ready for a change. When he had the chance to move to the agriculture unit of the sheriff’s department, White jumped on the opportunity. He loved working with animals and he already had a good rapport with many of the local livestock owners, so it just seemed like a perfect fit. Not only would he still be able to help his fellow man, he would also be able to help voiceless animals in need.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office’s Agriculture Unit is quite complex and specialized. As an Ag Investigator, White has many responsibilities that span from assisting livestock and ranchers to investigating agricultural crimes. Some days he has to catch cattle, horses goats and sheep. Other days he might receive a call about wild hogs, chickens or trespassers. He deals with thefts on farms and ranches. Sometimes he has to get involved in civil disputes over animals. When there’s a need, he will assist with traffic stops to help ranchers move their cattle across the road from one pasture to another. On really bad days, he has to intervene and help animals that are being neglected or abused.

This is not the kind of work for the faint of heart. One really has to understand and know animals in order to work in for the agricultural unit of the sheriff’s department. A friend once told White, “it’s easier to make a cowboy a cop than it is to make a cop a cowboy.” Wise words.

In the event an animal cannot be captured safely or when there is immediate danger to human life, Investigator White sometimes has to make a decision to humanely euthanize the animal. He noted that “this is a last resort.” He is dart certified which means he can use a form of chemical immobilization on animals when necessary.

Should his assistance be required, Investigator White doesn’t hesitate to help when more manpower is needed to assist with other incidents such as a burglary or locating a suspect. He stated that “it’s all in a day’s work.” Investigator White considers himself on the clock at all times, and when there’s a need, he is available. He stated that “it’s his job to go above and beyond whether he’s being paid or not.” Although his job requires him to wear many different hats, at the end of the day he’s still a cop who wants to protect and serve all forms of life.

One of the most frequent questions Investigator White gets asked is this: Is it hard to work as a cop where you grew up? His answer was simple. He generally responds with “No. It’s easier. You get more respect from people who know you, whereas people from other places may have a preconceived idea about who you are as a cop. It’s all about respect for one another.”

Investigator White is extremely thankful to all of the people who lend him a hand with his job when called upon. He stated that when it comes to assistance from others “they’re always a huge help for loose livestock.” As the interview wrapped up, White ended the conversation with “it’s an adventurous job, no doubt.” After listening to a day in the life of Investigator Mark White, this writer could not agree more.

With the ongoing news coverage of police shootings in this nation and the negative attitude toward the police nationwide, the staff of the Caloosa Belle has decided to show our support to the men and women of the Hendry County Sheriff’s Department who protect us every day. In the following weeks we will be introducing you to them and letting you know what they do to keep you safe every day.

Amanda can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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