Today, on Conversations with Cassie I have been honored with the opportunity to sit down and chat with the Sheriff of Cullman County. Of course, you may know that Matt Gentry is the Sheriff at Cullman County Sheriff’s Department. He is in his second term and is married with two boys that are 12 and 9 years old. Sheriff Gentry was born and raised in Cullman and graduated from Good Hope High School, then he attended the University of North Alabama for one year. After one year at North Alabama he decided to join the Marine Corps. He later got hired at the Sheriff’s office in 1999. 

The most important task that Sheriff Gentry spoke about having when being a Sheriff is the need to know everybody in the community so that you can take care of the community and help people through good times and bad times. 

When it comes to the best part about his job, Sheriff Gentry noted that people are his top priority. He loves getting to meet several new individuals and getting to see the good things that happen in your community by being accessible to the citizens and watching your neighborhood grow in a positive way. 

Sheriff Gentry has stated that the challenges he faces as a Sheriff arise because he has a community to look after, such as running the jail and observing growth in the community. With a community like Cullman that is growing you must record that growth. He has also said that they have 150 employees at the Sheriff’s office, and they are constantly answering phone calls from services of Cullman County. Their main goal is to keep the community safe and that sometimes comes with challenges. 

I asked Sheriff Gentry what the coolest part of driving a patrol car is in which he happily responded with “the coolest part is when you get to go down a county street and see kids get excited to see their deputy coming down the road. You get to pull over to show them the patrol car, turn on the blue lights, sirens, and let them get in the car to see all the computer stuff we have. That is probably the coolest part about driving a patrol car is seeing those kids in the community’s reactions.”

I asked Sheriff Gentry what the requirements were to be a Sheriff in our community. He stated, “in Alabama, unless there is a law passed, in order to be a Sheriff, you must be 18 years old and live in that county.”

The advice Sheriff Gentry has for law enforcement hopefuls is to, “go into it with a servant’s heart. You are not going to go into law enforcement to make a lot of money, but the reward for going into law enforcement is seeing the end product of your good deeds and that’s really the best thing we can do.”

I asked Sheriff Gentry what his beliefs are on recent happenings. He stated that “anytime something happens good, or bad, there is always a positive and negative result. With what occurred in Seattle, there is not a good law enforcement officer in this country that will agree to what a bad law enforcement officer does. We will be the first to stand up against bad law enforcement. The problem you witness today, is that people want to take something like that and turn it into a negative across the nation because just like society, in society, 97% of people are good 3% are bad so the thought process we have at the sheriff’s offices is we treat all 100% like the 97%. The problem with the nation today is that it’s a political season so a lot of times people lose focus on right and wrong and want to have political agendas driven out, no matter what it costs society. We live in a good community, we live in a community where we take care of everybody, doesn’t matter who you are and where you’re from. Our beliefs here at the Sheriff’s office is the office of Sheriff does not belong to me, does not belong to the deputies, it belongs to all of us. If every community across the nation had that relationship with their law enforcement and their community, you would not be seeing what happens today. “

Sheriff Gentry’s top priority when coming into office was to return the office of Sheriff back to the people. He stated, “it is not mine; it is not theirs; it is all of ours.” Returning the office of Sheriff was one of his proudest accomplishments/contributions. Sheriff Gentry also noted that he was blessed through the citizens academies, the youth leadership, and all other community programs that they do. Another accomplishment is the Rodeo and what the Sheriff’s office has been able to achieve through the rodeo is amazing. He stated the Rodeo “has been a blessing to both the Sheriff’s office and the community.” He noted they are making great strides in making things better for not only the community but also for the deputies as well. 

When it comes to a weather disaster and staying in touch with EMA, Sheriff Gentry stated that the Sheriff’s office has a very good working relationship with EMA where he stated Phyllis Little as the EMA director. During severe weather, they have one of their lieutenants stationed at EMA. One of their functions is to call weather in. As a deputy they are going out into the storm, to let the EMA and community know when a tornado has been spotted and where it is headed. 

What does the Sheriff’s department do for the county during a weather-related disaster? Sheriff Gentry responded with, “we’re out working hand in hand with the fire department, the road department, and all those involved to restore safety in the community, such as if power lines are down, trees down, we’re trying to get people to move to safety or get first responders in there so they can render medical aide.”

Sheriff Gentry believes that the best thing Cullman can do to make a difference in young individuals lives is to teach them the value of our heritage of who we are, leadership skills, what it takes to be successful, and that life is not about me, life is about all of us and what we can do together to make our community successful.

That wraps up Conversations with Cassie with Sheriff Matt Gentry. I must say I really admire his answers. It has been such an honor to have the privilege to chat with him and learn about who he is and what he does for our community. I also enjoyed getting to see his office and see all the details he has put into it. I thought it was really cool. Tune in next week for more Conversations with Cassie.