Five-year-old Selwyn Deloach told the Aiken Standard in 1989 that he wanted to be a policeman when he grew up. More than 20 years later, he's been a policeman, a fireman and a sheriff's deputy, and now he'll take his law enforcement career to the federal level with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Last week, Deloach completed his final day at the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, where he was a sergeant. He'll soon start training with ATF to be a special agent in the bureau's western division.
“This is just a great opportunity for the fact that I've always wanted to do explosive and firearm-related cases,” he said during an interview on Friday. “That's what I focused on at the Sheriff's Office, and now I've got the opportunity to do that full-time for the federal government.”
Deloach, who grew up in Aiken and got his college education here, said being an officer was all he wanted to do growing up. He began his law enforcement career in 2002 with the Aiken Department of Public Safety and moved to the Sheriff's Office in 2004 after Sheriff Michael Hunt was elected.
“He was kind of like a second dad to me growing up,” he said of Hunt. “It was a natural fit.”
Deloach said working at the Sheriff's Office exposed him to a variety of experiences, including special operations, explosives, SWAT and the canine units. Between that, the tactical training he received and the fire training he received from Public Safety, he said he feels prepared to “dive right into” ATF's mission, which is heavily focused on violent crime, arson and explosives.
When someone gets into law enforcement, they usually gravitate toward a particular area of enforcement, according to Deloach, who was drawn to firearm and explosive-related crimes.
“On the explosives side, it's the unknown,” he said. “It's very much like a fire. It's not an 'A-B-C-D' type thing. There's lots of variables, and I like finding those variables and being able to connect the dots.
“On the firearms side, I've got a lot of friends who have been affected by firearm crimes,” he continued. “What better way to hopefully put an end to it than to work on firearms interdiction and gang cases, and hopefully make an impact on the violent crime rate?”
Deloach said his favorite part of living and working in Aiken has been the community.
“We have a great group of deputies, a great group of citizens and I like being able to be a liaison between the community and the Sheriff's Office,” he said. “That was the best part about my job – relaying what we can do for people, trying to find out how we can better accommodate the citizens that we serve.”
One of his most memorable calls was a house fire shortly after Deloach finished the fire academy while at Aiken Public Safety.
“One of my partners was able to pull out a young child who was pretty much passed out in the fire,” he recalled. “I was able to get their dog. Just to see that family, they got their kid and their dog – I'll never forget that. That was the day I realized: This is why I'm here, this is what I'm doing and this is the reason for it. Even though they lost their house, they gained something back because they saved their family. To see the smiles on their faces, just a little bit of joy – I've always carried that through my entire career.”
And now, he'll carry it with him out west. He will go through seven months of training, which includes basic training and special agent training, before reporting to a duty location.
“I can't tell you how hard it is to leave here,” he said. “I will definitely miss Aiken, but I will be back someday.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012.
He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
Contributed photo Sgt. Selwyn Deloach and Rik, the explosives detection canine, make an appearance at a National Night Out event. Deloach will soon leave Aiken to start his new job as a special agent with ATF.×