Deputy Robert Paris
Photo credit: Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department
Deputy Robert "Bob" Paris volunteered to work for the sheriff's civil division, which included serving eviction notices throughout Stanislaus County. A dangerous but necessary job.
"He loved it," said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. "He put in for it. He was chosen."
For nearly 16 years, the sheriff said Paris served the department with dedication, working several jobs from patrol deputy to the sheriff's water enforcement team. His life ended Thursday at age 53 after he was gunned down while serving an eviction notice at a north Modesto apartment.
Authorities had not released the identity of the second person killed. The name will be released pending proper family notification.
"My thoughts and prayers are with that family, as well," Christianson said.
News of Paris' death was tough to take for the sheriff, who first met Paris when they started out together as paramedics for the Mobile Life Support ambulance company.
"He was a good friend," Christianson said. "This is a very painful thing to deal with."
Paris was hired at the department as a reserve deputy in May 1996, and he became a full-time employee in August 1998. He was a graduate of Tracy High School and the Ray Simon Criminal Justice Training Center in Modesto.
Christianson said Paris had strong interpersonal skills and fit well in a variety of positions. He was the department's first aid-CPR instructor at the sheriff's academy and once worked as a court bailiff.
"He was a compassionate, caring individual who always put others' needs before his own," Christianson said. "He was a good deputy. He just loved serving the community."
In July 2010, Paris joined the sheriff's civil division.
A dangerous part of the job
When serving eviction notices, uniformed deputies use marked vehicles with the same type of equipment patrol deputies have. Christianson said the deputies pair up to handle the large workload involved.
Former Stanislaus County Sheriff Les Weidman said most people don't know that serving eviction notices can be a dangerous job.
"There are literally hundreds and hundreds of them every year," Weidman said. In some cases, he said, "the castle doctrine kicks in. And these people start to think, 'This is my house. How dare you try to kick me out.' "
Weidman said serving eviction notices is a job that requires an abundance of communication skills, something Paris exhibited.
"He was the kind of deputy you knew would put himself in harm's way to protect someone else," Weidman said. "I don't recall ever getting a citizen's complaint about him."
But he said there's always the possibility deputies won't get a chance to calm an irate person.
"You just don't know what's waiting for you behind that door," Weidman said.
The former sheriff, now retired, was horrified to learn of Thursday's tragedy. He was on the road and stopped to get gas at a Waterford bait farm when he saw television coverage. Weidman hired Paris and knew him well.
A passionate sportsman
Paris was a soft-spoken man with a passion for hunting. He was a member of El Diablo Sportsman Club, and he recently took Weidman's spot in a big hunting trip to South Africa because the former sheriff couldn't attend.
"He was more of a sportsman than just a hunter," Weidman said. "He loved fishing, hunting, everything that had to do with the outdoors."
On the South Africa trip, Paris hunted warthogs and antelope. In this country, he hunted wild pigs, elk and deer. Friends said he even served as a hunting guide.
Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy coroner Tom Killian said he sat next to Paris last week at a funeral for the father of another deputy. He said Paris was excited about an upcoming hunting trip to Colorado.
"He came across initially as serious, but he was always a really nice guy," Killian said.
Turlock Police Chief Rob Jackson worked for nearly 20 years with the Sheriff's Department before moving to Turlock.
"Bob was a wonderful man," Jackson said. "This is a guy, when you were around him, he just made things better. He was always positive."
He said news of the deputy's death affects all neighboring police agencies.
"You have to remember that everyone in uniform, they're people, too," Jackson said. "They have emotions just like everyone else."
Weidman said department leadership plays a big role in the weeks and months after the death of a fellow officer. He said department officials will be dealing with a lot of flared tensions.
"You have to keep them focused on their jobs," Weidman said. "This will be a roller-coaster ride for the employees who have not experienced something like this before. Some will react differently than others."
He said he expects Christianson to be able to lead the department through the tragedy. He also said he was proud of the multiple police agencies who responded to assist Paris on Thursday.
Paris is survived by his parents, brother, and an adult daughter and son. Sheriff's officials said funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced as soon as they are made. Christianson said he met with Paris' family Thursday.
"It's heartbreaking for everybody," Christianson said. "It's heartbreaking for me."
McClatchy-Tribune News Service