Retired banker moonlights as a reserve deputy for Hernando Sheriff’s office

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BROOKSVILLE — Morris Porton is a retired banker.

Since 1982, he has spent much of his spare time risking his life — for free — for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, where he has worked as a reserve deputy for more than 30 years.

Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis recently promoted Porton from corporal to lieutenant in the agency’s Reserve Unit, where he will mentor new reserve and auxiliary deputies.

“He does everything that a paid full-time deputy sheriff does,” Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Powers said. “He goes on calls for service, initiates his own activities and traffic stops, and checks buildings for unlocked doors and other patrol duties. He does it all as a volunteer.”

Had Porton, 68, weighed more upon graduating high school, he might never have gone into banking.

“When I was a kid, my father did all of the dry cleaning for the Tampa Police Department and Fire Department, and I always” considered those careers, Porton said. “After I graduated from high school, I applied to the Tampa Police school, but you had to weigh 135 pounds and I only weighed 115.”

Porton came to Hernando in 1972, when he was transferred from the First National Bank of Tampa to the First National Bank of Brooksville.

“I had a friend here who was a customer and a deputy, and he encouraged me to come out and ride with him one time,” Porton said. “I just got hooked on it. I saw it as a way to give back to the community.”

He completed the Law Enforcement Auxiliary Academy at Pasco Hernando Community College in 1982, the year he was appointed as a volunteer reserve deputy by former Sheriff Melvin Kelly.

In 1988, Porton completed the Basic Law Enforcement Recruit Academy at PHCC; that year, he became a reserve deputy and began the agency’s field training program.

He married wife Pauline around the time he started volunteering at the sheriff’s office.

At first, she worried for his safety, perhaps with good reason.

“They all carry firearms,” Powers said. “Your reserve deputies have full arrest powers, while auxiliary deputies have to be in the presence of a reserve or full-time deputy. They’re trained in firearms, driving, defensive tactics — everything.”

The sheriff’s office currently has 14 auxiliary deputies and five reserves, Powers said.

Through the years, Porton has been able to balance his career as a banker with the demands of volunteer law enforcement work.

In 2006, he was promoted to corporal in the sheriff’s auxiliary unit. The following year, he opened Florida Traditions Bank as senior vice president. He retired from the bank in March, but still does marketing and public relations work.

The Portons now have three daughters, seven grandchildren and a great-grandson.

And Morris Porton continues to patrol Hernando streets on most weekends.

He said that he doesn’t fear for his safety, because he is cautious and well-trained.

“It’s like anything in life, I could go out and get hit by a car tomorrow,” he said. “I do think it’s a great community, and I’m honored that the department has faith in me. We can really help by having more reserves and auxiliaries. I was the only one for years.”

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