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Partners in crime fighting

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By Lisa King

 This year, for the first time, the award for the top police officer in the Shelbyville Police Department was presented not to just one person, but to two.

It makes sense, really, said the officers so honored, detectives Jesse Paulley and Stacy Bruce. Why? Well, as Sherlock Holmes would say in modern jargon, it’s a no-brainer. Where you see one, you see the other.  “We work together on just about everything,” Bruce said.  Said Paulley: “Everything we do here, we do together.” Because the SPD is small, its detective bureau is not separated into divisions. “We do it all; we could work a homicide one day and stolen microwaves the next,” Paulley said. Paulley and Bruce are not newcomers to the Officer of the Year Award. Paulley won it last year and Bruce in 2007, but their joint award given at a banquet last week was even more special, they said. “Last night was the first time it was jointly given, and it was given to us because all of the people that voted for us because of significant arrests that we’ve made, and the amount of confessions that we’ve gotten,” Paulley said. Maj. D. Goodwin said that Paulley and Bruce each received virtually the same number of votes, so it was decided to give the award jointly. “They were both clearly everyone’s choice,” he said. Award means a lot Paulley said the fact that the award was determined by votes from the officers means a lot to him. “The most significant thing to me, is that it was voted on by the uniformed guys that we work with everyday, not by the chief,” he said. “It’s by the guys who do the grunt work. “We’re the ones who are always in the paper. You always quote me, and quote Stacy, and those guys don’t get mentioned a lot. But the truth is, a lot of the arrests, like the Papa John’s armed robbery, or the bank that just got robbed--and we caught him--a lot of that is due to the uniformed guys that give us a lot of information. We put it all together and do what we need to do and get those people arrested, but they give us a lot of information that helps us to do that.  “So it means a lot to us that it’s those guys that voted for us. It wouldn’t mean near as much to us if it came from the chief.”  Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said that even though he did not participate in the vote for officer of the year, he approves of his officers’ choice.  “They are two exceptional officers who have improved the efficiency of our department and have because quite noteworthy in the court system in the commonwealth attorney’s office,” he said.  Shelby County Commonwealth Attorney Laura Donnell said that Paulley and Bruce are very deserving of the award. “Congratulations to the officers,” she said. “They would probably be among the first to tell you that their recognition is reflective of the high quality of police work our office has come to expect of the Shelbyville Police Department, and all law enforcement agencies that serve Shelby County.” Others look up to them “It’s like Jesse said,” Stacy said, glancing at his partner, “because it comes from our peers, this award means a lot. And another thing, Jesse and I are old enough to be a lot of those guys’ fathers. So, they look up to us, and we like being around them.” Bruce said that the respect the others have shown Paulley and him is returned. “We help them anyway we can help them to prepare themselves, because someday, they may be  detectives, too,” he said. “So we try to give them our skills and train them, and I think they appreciate that. “And in turn, they help us a lot. The fact that they felt that we were the ones they wanted to give this award to – well, it’s an honor, it really is.” Longtime partners Each detective has been at the Shelbyville PD fewer  than five years – Paulley for two and a half and Bruce for four – but the pair worked together at Louisville-Metro Police Department since 1977 before retiring and coming to Shelbyville.  And as in Louisville their teamwork has been exemplary. Bruce said it’s because they compliment each other. “Jesse’s got a real strong background in homicide, and I’ve got a real strong background in robbery and sexual crimes,” he said.” So even though we’ve been together all these years, we’re still learning from each other. So it’s good that we have that diversity in our training.” And that experience in large part is why they have the roles they do. Bruce said that he and Paulley are appreciative of Schutte and Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty for bringing them into the department. “It’s not everyone who would hire two fifty-something-year-old guys to do this job,” he said.  “But I’m sure they took into consideration that we’ve been doing this for 30 years together,” Paulley said. “There’s something to be said for that.” Hardesty said that  wealth of knowledge and experience the two possessed was what spoke to him.  “Age means nothing to me; I look for character, ability and performance, and that means everything,” he said. “They have 30-plus years experience and excellent reputations and are well thought-of both in Louisville and Shelby County. They are a tremendous asset to the department.” Dedicated to police work The question is, after retiring from successful careers in police work, why would they want to come back for more? Stacy’s simple statement said it all. “It’s what we do,” he said.  Paulley agreed with his partner. “The truth is, in my entire life, I never really wanted to do anything else but this. I feel very blessed because I have spent my entire career doing what I really want to do. I feel very blessed because of that. You know, there’s an old saying: if you love what you do and you get paid for it, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” Said Stacy: “Even at this age and after doing it for so many years, it still gets our adrenaline going. Paulley said that even though he sometimes has mixed emotions, being able to help people is the bottom line – especially given how much change there has been in the people committing the crimes. “When you get a homicide call, you don’t get fired up because somebody has lost their life, but because you get to help get they guy who did this to somebody, to help give the family some closure,” he said.  And Stacy added that he and Paulley  enjoy all their cases, not just the major ones. “There was this one little lady, and we had to go way out in the boondocks and get her lawn mower back for her, and she was just tickled to death,” he said. “It was just a push mower, but it was all she had,” Paulley said. “She got her lawn mower back, and he confessed, and we got him into some drug treatment. It made us feel good. That’s why we do what we do.”