While Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin stunned many by announcing his retirement early Monday, the decision wasn’t sudden.
When Kaelin was last re-elected in 2016, he said his fourth term as sheriff would be his last.
Kaelin was first elected in 2006, after former sheriff Larry Olivares stepped down to run for Nueces County Judge. Kaelin was re-elected in 2008, 2012, and 2016.
A Vietnam veteran, Kaelin is wrapping up a 50 year career in law enforcement, the last 12 as Sheriff, and 29 years with the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The 76-year-old Kaelin says he’s leaving now, in good health, so that he can enjoy his retirement.
“I told my staff I never wanted to leave in a walker,” said Kaelin. “So now while I’m still vertical, verbal, and self propelled, on the top of the game, the timing is just right for me to step out.”
Kaelin is credited for cleaning up the Nueces County Jail during his tenure as sheriff. He also helped get the new jail addition built, which is near completion.
While Kaelin says he’s proud the jail improvements will be part of his legacy, he’s also proud to leave an example for the next Nueces County’s next Sheriff to follow.
“I like to believe I’ve laid the groundwork, I’ve laid the blueprints for what this county likes in a sheriff,” said Kaelin. “Getting along with the Chief of Police, the Fire Chief. Getting along County Judge, the Commissioners; getting along with the City Council.”
Kaelin’s retirement is effective October 31st. Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal says the process of appointing Kaelin’s replacement starts at the next Commissioners Court, and that a new Sheriff will start work November 1st.