JOPLIN, Mo. — From a badge and a gun, to a bible, and then helping suspects get out of jail. For a Webb City man, his resume has been full of surprises.

Meet Larry Stout in our next edition of career 2.0.

Larry Stout, Webb City, said, “As a 12 year old kid, when they ask what you want to be when you grow up, I always wanted to be a policeman.”

And growing up in California, it was Larry Stout’s first career.

“Turned 21 in March. In July of ’81, I was hired by the LA County Sheriff’s Department.”

He calls is a great experience for 12 years. But when his kids started growing up, he wanted something quieter.

“I had some familiarity with the Midwest and started doing some research. Joplin happened to be one of the places that was hiring.”

He ended up on the JPD narcotics unit – which he says was a great fit.

“Some people are good at writing tickets, some people are good at handling calls, some people are really good at being nice to John Q Public, some of us were bad guy chasers.”

Stout say many, many cases where drug addicts were committing other crimes as a way to get drugs. So one drug task force arrest could solve multiple crimes.

“I would have stayed forever but it was 20 years and the way it was – the fiscal responsibility I thought I’m getting older. Maybe it’s time to go.”

And switch gears.

“Maybe I need to do something completely different.”

That was working for Christ in Youth, staging massive conferences for high school kids. A great job, but not a good fit.

“Bit of more than I could chew. Square peg in a round hole.”

A chance conversation at church led to a job offer for a brand new pre-trial release program with Jasper County courts. Stout would be evaluating suspects to get out of jail, possibly people he’d arrested in the past.

“It’s the opposite of what you were doing – make the court system flow better.”

A passage from the Bible helped make the decision.

“Micah 6:8 what do you need, justice and mercy, it doesn’t say ‘or’. They go together.”

Stout took the job, working with hundreds of suspects, in jail, who couldn’t afford bond. If a judge agrees they’re a low risk, there’s now another option.

“So now they can get out of jail – to maybe get an attorney, get a job, or just get help.”

Bringing a new balance to the local justice system.

“Justice and mercy. You need to be held accountable for your actions absolutely. But in the interim what are we doing?”