DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – From his shin guards to his helmet, Robert Vaughan’s riot gear is a clear sign that he has one of the most dangerous jobs in the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department.
“The inmates don’t scare me. I’m ready for them,” Vaughan says as he puts on his protective vest.
While most men his age are thinking about retirement, this 60-year-old is thinking about surviving his next confrontation.
Vaughan is part of the Sheriff’s “Special Response Team” or SRT. This former marine responds to the most hostile situations in the most hostile of places; prison. SRT is basically the swat team for the Lew Sterrett Jail.
When Vaughan passed basic training two weeks ago, he became the oldest SRT member in Dallas County history.
“You’re never too old for anything,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan and his team are called in to break up jail fights, end hostage situations and to put down prison riots. SRT also conducts surprise “shake downs” where they look for weapons, drugs and other contraband.
“There are risks you take when you go in there. Someone has to do this job and I’m glad to be part of it.”
“I just couldn’t believe that a 60 year old man could have that much energy,” says SRT officer Ta’Mon Haggerty. “He encouraged the younger guys to keep going.”
Vaughan may be an inspiration, but he also takes his fair share of ribbing; especially when it comes to push-ups and sit-ups.
“I always tell him, get the old man discount, because the older you are, the less you have to do,” says SRT officer, Michael Cornish. “It’s like the Lou Ann platter at Luby’s You get a discount. So he’s like a Lou Ann platter.”
Vaughan says he will retire someday, when he’s in his 80s. In the meantime, he has some sound advice for all those men of a certain age.
“They should get out of their rocking chairs and put away the cigarettes and beer and start getting yourself in shape.”
Vaughan should know. He’s dropped 45 pounds over the past three years and says he’s healthy and doing what he loves.