Sheriff Leslie A. Cotten
Navarro County, Texas


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Les Cotten - Navarro County Sheriff


Cotten seeking fifth term as sheriff
From Staff Reports

Sheriff Les Cotten will seek his fifth term in office, having filed with the Democratic Party to run in its March 4 primary.

Cotten was born in Corsicana and attended public schools in Powell and Kerens. He graduated from Kerens High School in 1960. He attended Navarro Junior College, graduating in 1974 with an associates degree in Law Enforcement. He attended Baylor University from 1975 to 1978.

The sheriff served seven and a half years in the U.S. Army, from 1960 to 1967. He was in the 101st Airborne Division, 36th Infantry Division Texas National Guard, 1st Armored Division, and the 25th Infantry Division. He served with the 25th Infantry Division in Pleiku, Republic of Vietnam.

He was employed with the Corsicana Police Department in December 1967, beginning as a dispatcher. Cotten moved to the patrol division in February 1968 as a patrolman. In March 1975, he moved into the criminal investigation division as an investigator.

Cotten was hired by Sheriff Bobby Ross in October 1982 as a detective sergeant. He was promoted to lieutenant in October 1991 by Sheriff Jim Hodge. Cotten ran for his first term in office in 1992 and was elected by Navarro County residents. He took office Jan. 1, 1993 and has served as sheriff since.

He has been married to his wife Cleta for 39 years. The couple has three children — Les Jr., Lea, and Lori. His son-in-law is Kraig Hawkins. The Cottens have four grandchildren: Hunter, Heath, Cole and Haleigh.

The sheriff is a member of the Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, VFW, DAV, Navarro County Peace Officers Association, Sheriff’s Association of Texas, National Sheriff’s Association, Life Member of the National Rifle Association, Corsicana 100 Club and the Kerens Area Chamber of Commerce.

He’s a Master Mason, Corsicana Lodge AF&AM No. 174, and a member of Pettys Chapel Baptist Church.

“I am a career law enforcement officer dedicated to serving the citizens of Navarro County,” Cotten said. “I would like to continue serving the citizens of Navarro County and ask for your vote and support.”


1/3/2004 Cotten seeks sixth term

From Staff Reports

Sheriff Les Cotten will seek a sixth term.

Cotten has filed to run on the Democratic ticket in the March primaries. He won election to the office in 1992, and has held it ever since.

"I am a career law enforcement officer, dedicated to serving the citizens of Navarro County as sheriff," Cotten said in a release. "I promise to do my best to do the job you have elected me to do.

"I want to continue the fight against the drug problem in Navarro County and all other crimes committed in our county. We can never slow down in the fight against crime."

Cotten, 61, was born in Corsicana and attended Powell and Kerens schools, graduating from Kerens High in 1960. He attended Baylor from 1974 to '77. He served in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division and the 25th Infantry Division from 1960 to '67, serving in Vietnam in 1966.

He was employed by the Corsicana Police Department in 1967 as a dispatcher, and took a patrol position in '68. In 1975 he became a detective.

In October of 1982 Cotten joined the sheriff's department as a detective sergeant. He was promoted to lieutenant in May of 1992.

He is a member of the Kiwanis Club, Lions Club, Navarro County Peace Officers Association, Historical Society, Texas Sheriffs Association, National Sheriffs Association, DAV, VFW, National Rifle Association and Kerens Chamber of Commerce.

He and wife Cleta have three children and four great-grandchildren.

"Navarro County has a good sheriff's department, dedicated to serving the citizens and I am proud of the officer of my department and the jobs they do," he said. "I want to continue serving the citizens of Navarro County and ask for your support and vote."

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2/28/2004 - Peace officer started on farm

Les Cotten started his work career on the farm and then went on to bagging groceries. He later joined the Army. Daily Sun photo/SCOTT HONEA


Like many local residents, he started out working on the farm, then went on to sack groceries for 50 cents an hour -- $5 a day.

When it came time to sign up for college, however, he had a last-minute change of heart.

"In January 1961, I went to Navarro Junior College, and I grabbed hold of the main door -- ready to register for school," said this respected member of the community. "But I said I am not ready for this, and I'm going to go jump out of an airplane
The Army recruiter was his next stop, followed by a three-year hitch in the 101st Airborne in Kentucky.

"The first airplane I ever rode in, I had to jump out of it," he said. "I took off in eight airplanes before I ever got to land in one.

"I was more scared of landing in one than I was jumping out of it."
He ended up spending 7 1/2 years in the Army -- including one in Vietnam -- when his discharge papers came through in August 1967, a month after his father's death.

At home, he found the cotton crop ready for harvest and cattle to take care of, so he rolled up his sleeves and set out to help his mother.

"I got all the cotton out, cleaned up the equipment and we had a sale," said Navarro County Sheriff Les Cotten.

Jobless, he had made up his mind to go back into the service when a friend put a bug in his ear about the Corsicana Police Department.

"It's kind of like being in the Army," his buddy cajoled. "You get to wear a uniform and carry a gun."

Cotten admitted a few passing thoughts in high school about the Highway Patrol was the only "background" he brought to police work, but all it took was a high school diploma or a GED back then.

"I was hired on the 16th of December in 1967 as a dispatcher, and I went to work at midnight," he said. "One of the other dispatchers trained me for a week, and after that I was on my own."

He said the work wasn't that hard, though. The county's single teletype machine was easy to operate, and there were only two radio frequencies. Then, there were only a couple of constables and a game warden along with a few sheriff's deputies and CPD.

"I think there were 15 officers in the police department and six or seven highway patrol," he said.

When he went on patrol in February 1968, he said he rode with his sergeant three nights and fellow officer Bobby Owens for four, then he was on his own.

Formal training was still four years away, so he learned as he went along.

"I had a .357 pistol I bought in December 1967, and on Nov. 22, 1968, I had to stop a man on the Interstate for running people off the road," Cotten said. "When I opened the door, the man pulled a pistol on me and I had to shoot him."

Through it all, he said responsibility stands out as a major factor in his life -- on the farm, in Burney Bobkoff's grocery store, in the military and later, in law enforcement.

"In the Army, most of the time I was a sergeant, so I had people under me to be responsible for," he said. "After I got involved in law enforcement, there was a big responsibility as far as the safety and welfare of the citizens."

He said there are no major changes he would make in his career if he had it to do over again, except for the year and a half when he left law enforcement to work in a friends cattle and construction business.

"I hated every minute of it," Cotten said. "I enjoyed the job, but felt like I was missing something that was in my blood."


Joan Sherrouse may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].


Reprinted with permission of the Corsicana Daily Sun || Articles Index

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