New JeffCo sheriff promises more diversity, community approach

New Jefferson County sheriff

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - There will soon a new sheriff in Jefferson County after Mark Pettway beat long-time incumbent Mike Hale on Tuesday.

Pettway is a 24-year veteran with the Sheriff’s Office who currently serves as a sergeant in the detective division.

He says some of his mains goals are to make the JeffCo Sheriff’s Office more proactive, approachable and diverse.

“I’d like to be a leader people can respect and look up to, a leader that people can follow,” Pettway says.

He feels one of the best ways to do that is to be out among the community and to have his deputies do the same.

“I want them to get out of their vehicles and engage in conversation with those they see on the streets. I want them to get to know the people in the communities,” Pettway says.

It's a request he says he heard often while on the campaign trail and one area of training he'd like to focus on.

“We would bring specialists in to make sure we have on-going training. We want the best training that we can have in-house and we’ll open it up to other municipalities who are not able to send people across country, across the U.S. to be trained,” he said.

Pettway says he will implement policies to deal with mental health issues and institute a program aimed at stopping the revolving door of inmates who choose a life of crime and come in and out of the jail.

"We have a program we are going to bring to the county jail to help those inmates get an education and get skills so they can be employed. It’s a game-changer. It’s going to help the whole county,” he said.

On the issue of doing more to help smaller municipalities in the county, like Fairfield, Brighton and Lipscomb, Pettway says they will not be overlooked. He accepts the offer from current Sheriff Mike Hale to help with the transition of the office, adding that is important considering Hale’s decades of experience.

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