“Report to Columbia.” That’s all Christian County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Sgt. Steve Maples was told when he was called to Sheriff Brad Cole’s office.

When Maples asked why, he said the answer was humbling. Cole told Maples he was selected for Missouri Sheriff’s Association Reserve Deputy of the Year — a statewide award — and was to be honored at a ceremony July 18.

“When the sheriff called me, I thought, ‘what did I do now?’” Maples said. “There was a quiet conspiracy I was not aware of.”

Maples is a 16-year reserve deputy with CCSO. Following Army retirement, Maples attended the police academy and began working in the Christian County Jail.

“I like to keep busy and work and it was an area that always needed help,” Maples said.

With that willingness to help, Cole said Maples’ job description grew.

“Basically anything that is needed from working in the jail to patrol duties to fleet maintenance,” Cole said. “He is always willing to jump in and help. I nominated him for the award just because of his dedicated time and service to the Sheriff’s Office and the county.”

On average, Cole said Maples donates 1,250 hours annually to the Sheriff’s Office. Currently, Maples is head of fleet maintenance and, according to a CCSO Facebook post, “donates more time to the Sheriff’s Office and citizens of Christian County than some full-time employees.”

And although his work is on a reserve basis, Maples said he has plenty of compensation.

“I get a lot of free coffee and doughnuts, which is worth something,” Maples said with a laugh. “Selfless service to other people is a pretty nice way to pass the time … I like to help people. I never turn my back on a cry for help.”

Maples said his consistent involvement spurs from a desire to help law enforcement. Officers are largely misunderstood, Maples said, and he feels protective of his CCSO comrades.

“A lot of people have no concept of what these kids face everyday,” he said. “They have the same dilemmas in life (others) face. But they put those aside every day to help people with their problems.”

Julia Maples — executive assistant to Cole — said she couldn’t be more proud of her husband for the work he does at CCSO.

“He is very kind and he is very community-oriented to help his fellow man,” she said. “I admire him for prioritizing, leading by example with his fellow officers to be there for them. So then it’s created, in my opinion, a camaraderie where they protect each other and jump on board if anybody needs help. He’s kind of inspired that, I think.”

And Steve Maples said his wife, who also keeps him on the straight and narrow, inspires him.

“She is the guiding force in my life,” Maples said. “She makes me a nicer person.”

Maples is technically retired, but retirement is not all it’s cut out to be, he said. So, he enjoys staying active, helping in whatever ways he can and doing his part to make the community a better place.

Recognition makes him uncomfortable, he said with a laugh.  That’s not why he’s here. He just wants to help.

“You look at all these people we have here who are dedicated to doing good things,” Maples said. “And it makes me proud they’d accept me to be among them … I have a lot of friends, people I hold in high esteem. I’m just proud to be associated with them.”

By Hanna Smith | CCHeadliner