PINEVILLE - Brad Ellison is not one to be held to moments of silence. He will be the first to tell you that he likes to talk, and it is a trait that has served Wyoming County's Chief Deputy well over a 28-year career with the department.
But if you want to give it a shot, ask Ellison what he would have done had he not chosen a career in law enforcement.
That's where you will find Ellison just a bit stumped.
"Well, that's a good question," he said after a few moments of contemplation. "I can't think of any other aspirations I've ever had. I guess it would have been something in the medical field."
Makes sense. His mom, Pricilla, was among the first class to graduate from the nursing program at the Wyoming County trade school. He and wife Tera's oldest daughter, Kali, is a sophomore at WVU and wants to become a dentist. Their daughter Kaci is a freshman at Tech majoring in nursing. They also have a son, Brad, a sophomore at Wyoming East.
Truth is, Ellison can't imagine a time when he didn't want to be a police officer.
He grew up in Pineville, the son of a miner, Gene Ellison, and he knew he wanted to serve as long as he can remember.
"My family had a long line of serving the country, and I grew up knowing that was the road I wanted to follow," Ellison said. "My grandfather served the country, my dad served, my uncles served."
After graduating from Pineville High School in 1984, Ellison joined the Air Force, where he was a member of the security police - guarding, among other things, nuclear weapons.
When he got out of the military and returned home, he responded to an ad in a newspaper about the town of Sophia needing a police officer.
He got the job, quickly became a police officer in his hometown and then attended the police academy.
Upon graduating, he tested for and was hired by the Wyoming County Sheriff's Department.
"It was July 1, 1991," Ellison said, recalling the day. "I still remember who I replaced. It was Tennis Cook - Pee Wee, we called him. He went to work for the DNR."
As the chief deputy, Ellison's is more of an administrative job now.
"Still on occasion I will get to go out, but more than anything it is administrative - scheduling guys, handling complaints, that type of thing."
Ellison has seen his share of the criminal element in Wyoming County, though.
He has not been shot at, he has pulled his gun and as any officer will tell you, when the gun is drawn, it is with intent to use it.
He also believes that a police officer should not be militaristic, but rather to serve the people.
"When you get into it, you have to want to do good for the community, and that should be every officer's goal," Ellison said. "We all know there are people out there who, for some reason, don't want to play by the rules. My thought was always wife, children and white picket fence and then you go to work, but that isn't everyone's view. That is not everyone's value system."
That said, he did offer an interesting viewpoint.
"It is almost like the police officer and the criminals are best friends because that is who you deal with and we deal with a lot of the same people," Ellison said.
He illustrated the story like this: He was called to a domestic dispute between a father-in-law and a son-in-law one night. He drove up near the son-in-law, who was sitting on the ground with a gun. He drew his own gun and ordered the suspect to drop the gun. Instead, the suspect put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. He would survive, and to this day he calls Ellison every year to wish him a Merry Christmas.
Ellison said he still needed to come to grips with the job early in his career.
Just months into his job, he responded to two automobile accidents that resulted in deaths, one near New Richmond where a youngster was killed and another near Clear Fork where two teens were killed.
"I didn't handle it well," Ellison said. "For about two weeks, every night when I would lay down to go to sleep I would see those kids, those images. I finally told myself, 'Brad, if you are going to do this job you are going to have to leave that at work.'"
He said he has probably seen more death over the years, whether in accident, murder or suicide, than "any serviceman in Afghanistan or Iraq. I just had to learn how to deal with it."
Ellison said domestic disputes make up a bulk of the calls the Sheriff's Office receives.
"It's really not close," he said.
Ellison said he plans on running for Sheriff next year. The election will be held in May.
"I am looking forward to it," Ellison said. "It's something different, but I feel like that is what I would like to do."