He's been retired for a week now and undoubtedly enjoying some of the things on his "bucket list." Frank Canarecci served as St. Joseph County sheriff for almost eight years, capping off a career of 37 years in law enforcement. The now former sheriff says he has no regrets.
Growing a goatee is the first thing Frank wanted to cross off his bucket list.
“In 37 years in law enforcement, I couldn't grow it and I'm 61 years old, I'm going to grow it,” he says, laughing.
After 37 years working in the jail, on the streets, as assistant chief and for nearly eight years, sheriff, that bucket list also includes losing weight and enjoying the great outdoors.
“I haven't gone fishing probably in 15 years and I got my tackle box out the other day and next month I'm going to go fishing, if I remember how,” says Frank.
Frank and his wife Chris, who together have 11 children and 12 grandchildren, live on a quiet farm in North Liberty that they fill with antiques they call "bargains."
He's, of course, proud of his family, and he’s also proud of the many accomplishments he made while sheriff.
“We're very proud of the things that go right and we try to correct the things that have gone wrong,” says Frank.
But he’s also troubled by the budget disagreements he faced with county commissioners.
“I want to go out with a positive feel about my administration, but I never really got to tell my side of the story,” he says.
Frank says he worked part of the time without a contract, through no fault of his own.
“The third year, I did the same thing. I signed my contract, forwarded it to the commissioners, it never got forwarded to the county fiscal body, so there was never an official contract. I did my job, some people up on the seventh floor didn't do theirs, and unfortunately I suffered the consequences of that. And it was hurtful to my family, it was hurtful to my dad, my kids, my wife,” says Frank.
Frank raised issue over $198,000 he earned in tax warrant money, money he says the IRS told him he needed to accept.
“Without taking the tax warrants, you know if you don't have a contract the tax warrants are considered your income. If you don't take them they would be construed as imputed income and the IRS could come after you,” he says.
This made him, and those close to him, the target of many editorials.
“It was hurtful. It was hurtful to my family. It was hurtful to my dad, my kids and my wife,” says Frank.
Frank says the sheriff should be a non-partisan position and there needs to be a county executive to oversee the council and workings of county government.
“Had there been that in place in St. Joe County, I can tell you that that contract that I signed would have been forwarded to the county fiscal body. It would have been signed and there never would have been a controversy,” he says.
The former sheriff says his favorite part about his last job was the people he worked with.
“The men and women who really go out and do the job without question,” he says.
Frank’s proud of the new historical display of the sheriff's department now adorning the jail lobby, but he also says it's time to move on.
He and Chris will spend time on the farm, visit their kids and close the door on a career for which he has no regrets.
“It's been a wonderful life and it's going to be a wonderful life,” says Frank.
You might recognize Sheriff Canarecci from Martin's Supermarket, where he also moonlighted as a security guard for 16 years.
He graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, always intending to teach, so part of his plans for retirement, in addition to more time with family, includes substitute teaching.
If you'd like to read the first part of Maureen’s conversation with Sheriff Canarecci click here.