Darren Doyle, story
Tough. Dependable. Brother. Friend. These are just a few of the words that local officers used when talking about Brownsville Police Chief Ricky Sanders. His six year fight with cancer came to an end as he passed away Sunday evening, September 27, 2015, and those that knew him will all tell you he fought it everyday with all he had.
We spoke with several officers from the Brownsville Police Department and Edmonson County Sheriff's Office about what Chief Sanders meant to each one. Although the Chief influenced each one a bit differently, each conversation was incredibly similar.
"I think back over the 22 years that I've know him...with Ricky, there's just so many things," said Assistant Chief Jeff Jewell. "I think about all his experience that we as officers can no longer tap into. The abilities he had as an officer? I mean, he was one of the best accident reconstructionists there was, period. Those abilities are now gone, and it hurts the community. We lost a valuable asset to the community...but most importantly, I lost a good friend. I going to miss him."
Judge Executive Wil Cannon spoke about Sanders when they both worked as Kentucky State Troopers. "Probably the best accident reconstructionist I ever worked with," he said. "He could read an accident like a book." Cannon spoke highly of his work ethic. "He always worked, that's for sure. He wasn't perfect, he made mistakes just like we all do, but Ricky always owned his. He didn't make excuses. You could depend on him to come to work everyday, even when he was sick. A lot of times, he probably shouldn't have been at work because of how he felt, but he did. That's what he wanted to do. He liked to help people."
"I had the opportunity to meet Ricky when he started working for the Sheriffs office in 2008," said Sheriff Shane Doyle. "He had a reputation of being the best accident reconstructionist in the state, and of being a tough, tough man. Although his gruff exterior showed a man who was as hard as nails, I knew Ricky as a devoted father, knowledgeable and professional lawman, and a fierce friend. Very few people were allowed in his inner circle, and those of us who were, know how hard it was to get there."
Deputy Sheriff Stoney Phillips said the first call he ever had with Sanders was an intense domestic call where a subject had a knife. The situation was eventually resolved with no one harmed and Phillips said they became brothers that night. "Ricky's been really good to me," Phillips said. "We worked a lot together, we were really close. You're at peace now...you'll be greatly missed, my brother."
Officer Nathan Dennis said "It's hard to put it in words, really. I learned so much from him. Outside of the academy, Ricky's the one that trained me and taught me everything I know how to do. He was always there for me, day or night. I've called many times at midnight, and he was right there beside me. There probably won't ever be another one like him. As far as friendship goes, he was the fairest and kindest guy I ever met. As far as work, or anything thrown in front of him, he wasn't scared. At one point, he had cancer and a detached retina, but we made entry into a house once, and he was right there with me. He put everyone else's life in front of his."
"The thing about Ricky was, you never had to look behind to see if he was there," said Deputy Wally Ritter. "He was the bravest guy I ever met. The way he fought this cancer proved he was one of the toughest human beings alive. Working with Ricky, he was the one that wanted to be the first one through the door, but when Ricky said he had your back, you never checked back there, because you knew he had it."
Brownsville Officer Garth Avery called him a friend, mentor, and an inspiration to everyone. "He was one of the best bosses and co-workers a person could ask for." He also said his humor, kindness, and passion for serving Edmonson County will be greatly missed.
"Ricky Sanders was the toughest man I ever knew, and from his first diagnosis of cancer to the last conversation I had with him, he never failed to see the good side of things," added Sheriff Doyle. "After his diagnosis, he spoke of how green the trees were, and how before his diagnosis, he never noticed. He saw his cancer as a blessing that forced him to see the goodness of things, rather than a burden. I am a better man because I knew him, and Edmonson county is a better place because he served us."
Rest in piece, Chief. Edmonson County salutes you. You will be missed.