ECTOR COUNTY, TX (KWES) - He spent 39 years of his career in law enforcement and was elected as sheriff in 2001. But now, Sheriff Mark Donaldson is leaving the department after serving 16 years as Ector County Sheriff.
"It's been tremendous," said Donaldson. "I grew up here, it's been an honor for me to be able to do this and have my picture on a wall with other great sheriff's."
Under his service, the sheriff's office saw changes from enhanced firearms training, implementing a working inmate program and the creation of the special operations response team. But Donaldson said helping the people of Ector County is one of the things he will miss.
"Some kid would look up and see me with the badge and the gun," he said. "They'd go, 'Who's that?' And their parents would say, 'That's our sheriff.' To see the look on their face, that's something special to them. That was one of the most special things about being a sheriff."
The department had the chance to say their thank you's to Sheriff Donaldson at the Ector County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday and share their appreciation before he leaves office.
"He's set forth policies and procedures," said Sheriff-elect Mike Griffis. "He's prepared me the best feasibility to take the reigns and he's leaving us in good shape."
After many years of his busy working life, Sheriff Donaldson is still looking at what his next step will be. He said his footprint he leaves behind is the people at the sheriff's department, as they continue providing the best service to Ector County.
"I thank the people of Ector County for putting me in this office," Donaldson said. "Letting me run this office and re-electing me four times to be their sheriff and trusting me to do that job and it's been an honor to serve these citizens in Ector County."