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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Two top sheriff’s deputies retire

Spokane County Undersheriff Larry Lindskog has been married for 36 of his 38 years in law enforcement.

When Lindskog was with the Spokane Police Department, top officials would ask his wife, Susan, to speak to new recruits’ wives.

“I would tell them to have their own life, because at any given moment he could be gone,” Susan Lindskog said. “You’ve got to maintain your own identity.”

Lindskog was one of two law enforcement veterans Wednesday to say goodbye to the Sheriff’s Office.

Now Susan Lindskog gets to share the same identity and lifestyle with her husband – retirement.

“He tells people he owes me,” Susan Lindskog said. “And I say: ‘Yes, he does.’ ”

The undersheriff and Capt. Bruce Mathews take with them 71 years of combined law enforcement experience.

Lindskog spent his first 29 years with the Spokane Police Department. In 1999, he went to work with the Sheriff’s Office under then-Sheriff Mark Sterk.

“I’ve had a great career both with the Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office,” Lindskog said.

Lindskog rode a Harley-Davidson as a motorcycle cop, did paddy wagon detail in the Riverside precinct and did security at the former Playfair Race Track.

The undersheriff sat on the Spokane Police Credit Union board of directors, was involved in creating a fund for police widowers and helped create a scholarship fund in honor of a fallen officer.

“I’ve been really lucky,” Lindskog said. “I worked some special things.”

Lindskog spoke most fondly of a program he developed with Sterk when the duo was at the Sheriff’s Office, the “Every 15 Minutes Program.”

The program was created to remind high school-age kids that driving drunk is deadly. For almost two days, 24 teens participated in a role-playing exercise as if they’d been killed in a drunken-driving crash.

“The impact was tremendous,” Lindskog said of the “Every 15 Minutes Program,” which ran from 1990-98. The program won the Washington State Governor’s Award for the best high school program in the state, Susan Lindskog and officials said. Other agencies and school districts across the nation have since adopted the program.

One of Lindskog’s other most memorable moments in law enforcement was when he was shot.

He pulled over a drunken driver, and the man shot Lindskog in the torso, missing his vital organs.

“He never missed any work due to his injury, returning to work just hours later,” Susan Lindskog said. “The very next year, he suffered a butter burn to his hand and missed 14 days of work.”

Larry Lindskog, 59, said he considers the day he was shot “one of the better ones, because I survived.” The man who fired a bullet into Lindskog was shot and killed by other police at the scene. “We are going to miss Larry,” said Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Lindskog shared his retirement spotlight on Wednesday with Mathews. But the captain wanted to go out on a happy note, so he dyed his hair green – the same as a sheriff’s deputy’s uniform.

Mathews, 56, has spent his 33-year career in law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Office.

He said he didn’t grow up always wanting to be a cop.

“I did it as a lark,” Mathews said. “One of my friends was taking the test and wanted company, so I went with him. I passed the test, and he didn’t.”

However, “it ended up being a great job because you can do a lot and live in the same place,” he said.

Mathews started out in patrol, did undercover work for about six months, then was promoted to detective for 16 years, eight of which were spent investigating sex crimes.

After eight years working in the sex crimes unit, “you don’t need to read fiction because it comes across your desk every day,” he said.

Mathews also worked as a patrol sergeant, in internal affairs and was a lieutenant in community services before being promoted to his most recent position of captain in charge of the investigative unit.

“I am just a guy who came to work and tried to do the best he could for the public and the other employees,” Mathews said.