Veteran lawman Mickey Gilbertson admits he wasn't always one to follow the rules.
A teenage felon in central Florida, Gilbertson spent time in reform school and jail before meeting a couple of officers who took him under their wings and taught him right from wrong.
In addition to helping Gilbertson find a job and a place to live after his release, the same officers were by his side to vouch for him when he became a deputy in 1974.
"I got a second chance," he said. "Sacrifices in life are what you have to make for what you believe in. That's what's important in life."
After nearly four decades working to right the wrongs he saw as a kid, Gilbertson's last day on the job was Monday.
His colleagues celebrated on Friday with a retirement party in his honor.
"Police work has been my life," he said. "I wouldn't be here right now if I didn't have the ... childhood that I had and the [bad stuff] I've seen in my life that I don't want to happen to anybody else."
Gilbertson joined the Dawson County Sheriff's Office in March 2000 when he moved to the area from Tampa, Fla.
"Mickey's from the old school," said Sheriff Billy Carlisle. "When the book tells you to do it this way, but common sense and your heart says to do it a different way, Mickey would look at the book and say he could get the same result doing it his way, and that's the way Mickey would do it."
Carlisle said it will be difficult to find an officer like Gilbertson today.
"He's not afraid to speak his mind or tell you when you're doing something wrong," he said. "I've always admired you for that."
For the last several years, Gilbertson has been assigned to court services, working the metal detector at the courthouse.
Maj. Brandy Branson said Gilbertson's personality was an ideal fit for the role.
"He made friends with hundreds and hundreds of people in this community by having contact with them at the courthouse," he said.
Branson said the constant questions from the community about Gilbertson are proof of his impact.
"Your legacy is that the people here love you and care about you and they ask about you, and we're going to miss you," Branson said.
Carlisle presented Gilbertson with a plaque and thanked him for his service.
"He's had his heart and soul in police work during his whole career," Carlisle said.