Sheriff has served Southampton County for 32 yearsPublished 1:03pm Saturday, December 7, 2013
Merle Monahan/Contributing Writer
COURTLAND— Southampton County Sheriff Jack Stutts remembers that he decided when he was young what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“It was one of three things,” he said, “an astronaut, a cowboy or a policeman.
“Well, the first two were obviously a little out of my range, so I then decided to pursue law enforcement.”
Stutts was so adamant about his decision to become a policeman that as soon as he graduated from Franklin High School, he made a trip to the Chapel Hill, N. C., police department and asked about a job.
“I had heard about how good that department was,” Stutts said, “and thought it would be a good place to start.
“Surprisingly, they sent me in to see the chief,” Stutts laughed. “The first thing he asked was how old I was.
“When I said 18, he smiled and said, ‘Son, go home and go back to school and when you’re 21, come back to see me.’”
“I was a little naïve,” Stutts continued with a grin, “but I’ll never forget that chief and the advice he gave me.”
Stutts did indeed heed the advice he was given. He worked in construction while attending college and when he became old enough, he approached former Southampton County Sheriff Ryland Brooks and asked to be hired as a deputy.
“I didn’t go back to Chapel Hill because I grew up in Southampton County. I’m happy here and really didn’t want to leave,” he added.
“That was in 1981,” Stutts went on. “Sheriff Brooks hired me and I’ve been here ever since.”
Stutts, 57, took advantage of every opportunity available to him and rose through the ranks from deputy to detective, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and major. He is now serving his first term as sheriff.
“I really enjoy the work,” he said. “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
The new sheriff and 63 deputies serve 26,000 people in Franklin and in Southampton County.
He says some people ask “With so many deputies, why are they not more visible?
“What they don’t realize,” he said, “is that at least 40 of them work in the jail and at the prison farm. Some also are on staff at the department.
“Our job is to protect the citizens of Franklin and the county and that is a priority,” he continued.
He added that the department has three detectives, a swat team, dive team and a fire investigator.
“Then we have several programs available to the public that we believe will benefit different age groups. We go into the schools to let students know how the department works and advise them that we are always available if needed.
“Then we to talk to senior groups about safety and if a senior lives alone, we will monitor them daily when they request it.”
The young sheriff is serious about his work, he added. He says people will always find him legal, fair and consistent.
He notes that on occasion he and his deputies do get a laugh out of some situations — after the fact, however.
“This happened twice,” he said. “On both occasions, we knew the suspect was hiding in an old building, so we went in very cautiously. All of a sudden, he fell from the rafters to the floor and landed right in front of us.
“Needless to say, we all had trouble holding our composure.”
Stutts says there is one other thing his department will do for the county citizens.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but if we’re made aware that a resident will be away from their home for a period of time, we’ll check their property periodically while they’re gone.
“There is one thing we will not do, however. We will not feed their dog.”
NAME: Jack Stutts
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THIS AREA: I am a Southampton County boy.
OCCUPATION: Sheriff of Southampton County and Franklin.
MARITAL STATUS: I have been married to Alice for 31 years.
CHILDREN, AGES AND SCHOOLS: We have a son and a daughter. Our son Judson is 27. He a graduate of Virginia Tech and is married to Katlyn. Our daughter, Jessica, is 22 and a senior at Virginia Tech, from which she will graduate in May. Both our children will then have degrees in engineering.
FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: Dinner with family and friends.
FAVORITE MEAL AND BEVERAGE: I like everything except Kimchee and drink anything that is appropriate with the meal.
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I am a pretty good cook.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOURSELF: I am fair.
WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: Impatience.
PETS: One tough cat named Josey Wales.
FAVORITE HOBBIES: I enjoy hunting, fishing, cooking and I read a lot.
PET PEEVE: People who take advantage of others.
FIRST JOB: I worked for Hunterdale Shell, where I pumped gas, washed windshields, checked oil and crushed ice.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: Old!
IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHAT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: I would encourage people to remember the faith, morals and work ethic that made this country what it is.