It’s hard to leave a job you love.
But no matter how much determination you have, a good steward knows when it’s time to go.
With the start of April, Steve Keane’s tenure as Benton County sheriff ended. Keane had spent the past few years battling colon cancer and the treatment took its toll.
Keane, who worked the entire time through his chemotherapy and treatment, kept the department a priority no matter how sick he was. He went above and beyond the call of duty and has earned some much needed down time.
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Keane will move to his cabin in Idaho to attempt to recharge his batteries and to spend more time with his family.
He has spent 25 years with the sheriff’s office, most recently in its top spot. It’s not an easy life. As sheriff, he carried two cellphones and a radio, and vacations were a distant memory. Policing changed and challenges among inmates like mental health crises and drug addiction became more prevalent. And then came cancer.
Keane says one of his greatest accomplishments was his work to create an anti-gang team in 2011 aimed at sending a single message to the 30 or so gangs operating in the region: gangs aren’t welcome here. While no community can be gang-free, ours is a better place than most because of that task force.
Keane will miss the community aspects of the job, like the Shop with a Cop program, giving out Christmas gifts and helping out those in need.
He won’t miss the politics of the job or the heartbreak when inmates died in jail on his watch. That’s something that still haunts him and he has worked to create safer conditions for inmates.
Making a difference has meant a lot to Keane.
“The arrest gives you temporary comfort, but it’s the rest that gives you true satisfaction,” Keane said. “You get injected into people’s lives. As a police officer, you can do so much.”
Keane has been the boss to more than 200 people, and always tried to treat them with compassion no matter the circumstances. If he had to fire someone, he tried to leave their dignity intact at the end of the conversation.
He’ll miss his co-workers, and some of his fondest memories are of competitive feats with fellow deputies. From timed laps on bicycles around a sheriff’s office being remodeled to contests to see who could roll the farthest across the floor in an office chair, those good times with others laying their lives on the line on a daily basis are treasured memories.
Cancer is an insidious beast, and while Keane says he is now clear of the disease, the wake of its aftermath can be seen on his face. A cabin in Idaho, family and some time tinkering with the motorcycles he loves sounds like just the ticket to health.
Thank you, Sheriff Keane, for your dedicated service. You’ve made a positive difference in the lives of many.
You will be missed.