Armstrong County sheriff ends career after 20 years

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Armstrong County Sheriff Larry Crawford has been keeping residents safe for nearly 20 years.

It's the main reason why he wears that gold badge.

“It comes down to trying to make Armstrong County a better place to live,” said Crawford of the sheriff's job.

“I've lived here all my life. My family lives here. I have three sons, a granddaughter and a grandson on the way.”

“You take an oath to uphold the law for everyone's safety and that's what you strive for when you're working here in Armstrong County.”

Crawford, 59, of East Franklin, will be pinning the star to his white shirt for the final time when he retires as county sheriff at year's end after 20 years and five terms in that elected office.

In his many duties over the course of his career, Crawford has directed the sheriff's office in its serving court papers, issuing license-to-carry permits, transporting prisoners and providing security in the courthouse and around the county on a daily basis.

When there was a bomb scare at the courthouse on the same day that the Twin Towers came down on 9-11, he was in command of everyone's security.

“With everything that was going on that day, I wasn't sure that it wasn't real,” he said. “You're only as good as the people you're surrounded by and I can't say enough about the whole staff throughout the time I've been here.”

“Not only do we have to keep the people safe in the building, our job is to keep the public who comes into the building safe,” he added.

Crawford once got involved in chasing down a bank robber. It earned him a letter of accommodation from the Pennsylvania State Police.

“It was one of the few times I had to pull my gun,” said Crawford. “Thank God I didn't have to use it. When we took him out of his car, little did I know there was a Magnum .44 on the floor. I'm thankful he didn't pick up that weapon.”

Crawford likes to start each day very early in the morning and plan the day's work with staff over a cup of coffee.

“We try to be safe with everything,” said Crawford, “I think I work on other people's safety more than I do my own.”

Crawford took office in 1994. Before that, he began his career in law enforcement at the county jail where he worked for 10 years as a corrections officer. Prior to that he worked as a machinist.

In five elections, Crawford never had an opponent running against him.

“The people of Armstrong County have been good to me,” Crawford said. “I always attempted to do the job without making it political.”

Crawford says his number one accomplishment as sheriff has been improvements in security.

“We've secured the courthouse as much as we can,” he said.

His office has been involved with the county's drug task force from its beginning.

He touts a program that teaches handgun safety to women in the county as well.

After retiring, Crawford plans to spend lots of time with his wife Kim and their grandchildren. He will make time too for hunting and being out in the woods.

“It's time for a younger person to take over,” said Crawford. “I've done everything I could here. I hope the next person continues to keep going what we've done so far.”

“I can't believe how fast it went.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

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