Sheriff announces re-election bid

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas has announced his campaign for re-election.

Thomas, a Democrat, was first elected in 1994. “I have always had an open door policy for anyone that might need my help and this will continue,” he said. “The people of our great county deserve a sheriff that is available to them at all times.”

Thomas was born in Goshen, the son of Emory and Katherine Thomas. He attended Goshen High School, Lurleen B. Wallace Community College and Troy State University. “In Goshen I learned the value of hard work and that you should earn what you get,” he said.

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Thomas has been married to Jodi Pierce Thomas for 23 years. She is a speech pathologist who has worked in the public schools for 23 years. They are the parents of two children, Russ and Kati, and are all members of Goshen Baptist Church. Thomas said he enjoys spending time with his family, watching sports and hunting with his son. He is a member of the Pike County Cattleman’s Association, Troy Masonic Lodge, Troy Rotary Club, Pike County Chamber of Commerce, Farm City Committee and Fraternal Order of Police.

Thomas is a member of several professional organizations. He served as president of the Alabama Sheriffs Association in 2007 and is a member of the National Sheriff’s Association. He served as president of the 4,100-member Alabama Peace Officers Association in 2013-2014 and is a board member of the Alabama Peace Officer’s Annuity and Benefit Fund that manages a $22 million fund. He also is an executive board member of the Drug Task Force and a member of the Alabama Jail Association. He has also served as a voting commission member twice for the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and has served as an Advisory Member of the Judicial Study Commission, the Alabama Child Death Review Team and also has previously served as an Advisory Member of the Alabama Sentencing Commission for the Chief Justice.

Among civic and community activities, Thomas works with area senior centers and supports the Pike County volunteer fire departments. Each fireman is appointed by the sheriff to be a member of the Pike County Search and Rescue Team.

“This team shows the diversity of what we do at the sheriff’s department,” Thomas said. “Within the last two years, the sheriff’s department and this team have worked together to quickly solve three missing person cases, including two elderly people and one small child.

“I also depend on the help from the citizens of Pike County, to be our ‘eyes’ when we’re not around,” Thomas said. “Over the 20 years as your Sheriff, the public has helped us solve numerous cases by contact the sheriff’s office and reporting crimes in progress and suspicious activities. I know without the trust and good relationship with my fellow citizens that my job would be impossible to maintain year in and year out.”

Thomas began his law enforcement career as a campus police officer at Troy State University. He began working with the sheriff’s department in 1988 as a deputy under Sheriff Harold Anderson and he was promoted to chief deputy before seeking the position of sheriff. “As Sheriff, I think it is also vital that we maintain strong relationships with the municipalities and their government and law enforcement leaders within Pike County,” Thomas said. “I have worked hard to build those relationships.”

Thomas said his community outreach and education efforts have brought child identification kits to each kindergarten and day-care student in the county for 14 years. “More than 7,000 children have been fingerprinted as part of this program,” Thomas said. “I also have worked tirelessly to continue to upgrade the sheriff’s department with the most current equipment; to increase manpower to add 24-hour patrols; and to provide deputies around the schools. We also provide a church and business watch to county residents.”

Thomas said he established Project Lifesaver and The Yellow Dot Program for seniors, 10 neighborhood watches throughout the county, a women’s firearm class as well as a Chaplain Program with 17 local chaplains who provide devotional each Tuesday morning for the department and support within the community when the need arises at critical times.

Thomas said his department has been instrumental in solving several major crimes as well as making numerous drug arrests. “The Sheriffs’ Department has made 392 drug cases over the past six and a half years. The number of cases will vary from year to year, because as drugs in communities are eradicated and people are arrested, it diminishes the drugs and criminal activity associated with it. In 2014, 11 drug arrests have been made and 26 firearms have been seized. The Sheriff’s Office also makes multiple arrests each year. Over the last two and half years we have made a total of 588 arrests, both misdemeanor and felony arrest,” he said. Thomas said he has worked to increase department salaries and training, with 575 hours of continued training earned in 2013.

“My desire for the future of the sheriff’s office is to continue to provide the best possible law enforcement for all the citizens of Pike County and to always been accessible for everyone,” he said. “I believe in working together to keep our county safe and drug-free.”