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June 15, 2009

Cullman man to run for sheriff

Many changes are in store for Cullman County law enforcement if Jackie Wilhite has his way.

Wilhite, 32, recently announced his intention to run for sheriff of Cullman County on the Republican ticket. Sheriff Tyler Roden recently announced his plan to run for re-election as a Democrat.

“Mr. Roden has been in there going on 16 years,” Wilhite said. “It’s become stale. Crime statistics from thefts to burglaries and drugs ... there has been no decrease hardly whatsoever from year to year. I think the plans I have, if put in place, would show a dramatic change.”

A graduate of Cullman High School, Wilhite has nearly 10 years of experience in law enforcement, including the last two years as a Cullman County Sheriff’s deputy. To Wilhite, there was little doubt in his mind growing up that he would enter law enforcement.

“It was a calling, I guess,” Wilhite said. “Beginning real young, I would always say I would be in law enforcement.”

However, Wilhite is currently out of law enforcement and instead co-owns the trucking company, Cullman Express, with his father.

“It was basically the money,” Wilhite said of his decision to leave the sheriff’s office. “Back then the pay was so low, it was hard to support a family and children on that.”

Wilhite and his wife Ashley have three children.

Wilhite said he wants to re-enter law enforcement, however, due to changes he says are needed at the sheriff’s office.

“I feel like Cullman is at a crossroads,” he said.

Among the changes Wilhite would like to implement is a greater focus on fighting the war on drugs.

“What I plan on doing is creating a criminal enforcement unit,” Wilhite said. “It would be four to five guys highly trained in drug seizures and conducting search warrants. They would get out and work the county every day.”

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