BY HANNAH LESTER
Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones was inducted as the president of the Alabama Sheriff’s Association during a ceremony last week in Opelika.
“Tonight is special and our purpose is to mark the occasion of a transfer of leadership for our, no, for your association,” Jones said.
Jones succeeded Montgomery Sheriff Derrick Cunningham who had served since January 2020.
Probate Judge Bill English swore in the new officers for the association, as well as Jones.
Jones thanked Cunningham for his service to the association.
“We’re just beyond appreciative of what you’ve done and how you’ve done it,” he said. “You’ve done well and you represent us well.”
Jones introduced his family, his officers and his team.
“Our families, our staffs and those who support us,” Jones said. “Those are the folks that we owe so much to.”
He took time to give credit to a mentor of his in the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Major Carey Torbert.
“When I first started at the sheriff’s office a couple of years ago, this fellow took me under his wing and he looked out for me,” Jones said. “Every time I got fired he’d call me and said, ‘just come back tomorrow the sheriff will forget what you did today.’ I think I got fired, what, six times, sheriff?
“… He has over 50 years association with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and I’m just telling y’all right now, that man’s probably forgotten more about how to run a jail, what a sheriff does in office, than most folks will ever learn in their lifetime. He’s a special man and a truly, truly good friend. Major I’ve said it, we’ve talked about, but I’m going to say it to the public right now, like I have before. I wouldn’t be where I’m at without you, sir.”
There are 900,000 peace officers in the U.S. at all levels, Jones said, city, state, county, national. But, there are only a little over 3,000 sheriffs.
“We’re sheriffs,” he said. “No other position in law enforcement, but the provision of law and the insurance of public safety is as unique as the office of sheriff. We share the mission of protection of our communities with our law enforcement partners, our colleagues, and cities and states, and around our country.
“But none of them, I would offer for your consideration, share the exact same relationship that we do to those that we serve. We are here because it is their choice, those people that we serve. It’s not a panel, it’s not a commission, it’s not a council, but the vote of the citizens who we serve. No higher honor exists than to be hired directly by your neighbors, your friends and even people who have never met you, but they’ve heard you speak, they’ve talked to someone who does know you and decided, you know what, that you’re the one they want to be their sheriff. An honor indeed.”
Jones has served as Lee County’s sheriff since 1998, but has worked with the office since 1975, while he was still an Auburn University student.
“It is a privilege, and an honor, to serve as your association president,” he said. “I can’t tell you what an honor it is. I look forward to it. As a matter of fact, I am humbled to be among so many men and people that I respect. I’ll do my best to keep us headed in the right direction.”