Robin Morse, a career law enforcement officer in Laurens County, was honored Tuesday during an occasionally emotional luncheon at the county’s Higher Education Center.
Morse’s long career has spanned 44 years and included stints as the City of Laurens police chief, Clinton’s director of public safety, a county sheriff’s deputy and a South Carolina Highway Patrolman.
“The City of Laurens, Clinton city and the county are much better places because of his service,” said former Laurens Mayor John Stankus, who was also worked with Morse as a police officer.
Stankus was among several peers and friends who lauded Morse as both a lawman and a mentor.
“You can teach anybody how to be a police officer, but you can’t teach work ethic; you can’t teach courage; and you can’t teach heart,” said Laurens County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael Paulson. “That’s what Robin instilled in all of us.”
Morse’s wife, Barbara, said at the beginning of the program what most of those in attendance already knew – that her husband was not someone who needed recognition or a “dog and pony show,” but he was convinced by friends and family to allow the program to take place.
“Forty-four years wearing a gun and a badge,” Morse said. “I’ll tell you right now, I enjoyed every single day of it. It was not anything that I dreaded getting up and going to work. I dearly loved getting up and going to work each and every day. Good days and bad, it didn’t matter. I loved doing the job.”
Morse spent 17½ years as police chief in Laurens before moving on to take over Clinton Public Safety in 2013. He remained at the helm there until the City of Clinton decided to separate its police and fire divisions in 2018. He has since been working as a deputy corner for the Laurens County Coroner’s Office though he said he is “retired” from law enforcement.
His former colleagues lauded Morse as a man ahead of his time in some respects as he brought local law enforcement agencies into the modern era with computers and other technology.
“Robin was decades ahead in his thinking,” said former Laurens County Sheriff Jim Moore.
Morse was presented with his personal fire helmet and a leather helmet from the citizens of Clinton from former fire Capt. Scott Shiflett, and U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) gave Morse a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol in Morse’s honor.
As a young deputy with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, Morse was shot in the abdomen, an injury that caused him to go through several surgeries and months of rehabilitation.
Thirty-six years after being shot, he was awarded the Purple Heart for the injury in the line of duty, and was lured to that ceremony with the promise of a new high-tech flashlight, said former Laurens County Sheriff Ricky Chastain.
“Most law enforcement officers would have found another profession after that,” Chastain said. “But Chief found something good out of something terrible.”
Chastain said Morse stayed in touch with the man who shot him as the man served his prison sentence, visiting him and forgiving him for the incident.
“He changed that man’s life,” Chastain said.
And during Tuesday’s program, Morse finally received his long-awaited flashlight – engraved with his name with a thank you for his service.