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On the Front Lines: Perry Shands

Leading from the front

Photos by RAW Images and Contributed

Beginning his law enforcement career as a corrections officer in the Morgan County Jail, Perry Shands is a prime example of leading from the front. The Hartselle man has always had an interest in law enforcement and has served as the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office patrol captain since 2019.

Shands first began his career in 2004 at the Morgan County Jail while earning two associate degrees from Wallace State Community College: criminalistics and law enforcement. Working in the jail until 2007, Shands attended the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Academy and began his journey toward patrol captain. He said serving his neighbors has always been one of his goals.

“It’s something I wanted to do. I always wanted to help the community and help people,” Shands said.

After spending 14 weeks at the academy, Shands returned to Morgan County to begin working on patrol. After spending several weeks in training, he said he was excited to get started. “I guess you can say it was a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to ‘clean up the streets,’ so to speak,” he said.

Shands focused on leading by doing as he worked on patrol, even being awarded the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office Deputy of the Year in 2010 by American Legion Post 15. In 2012 Shands began serving as the lead officer before being promoted to sergeant in 2013.

“I have always been a doer. I would hope my shift would follow,” he said. “I am a supervisor that wants to be there with his guys and not expect them to be there by themselves.”

Shands said he continued to work his way up the chain of command, gaining experience along the way. He spent about six months in the criminal investigation and narcotics divisions to gain more felony experience before returning to what he loves most: being on the road. Shands said in his 16 years of working at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, he has spent 12 of those years on night shift.

In 2019 Shands was promoted to patrol captain, taking the reins of patrol, maintenance, reserves and the Sheriff’s Posse, chaplains, wreckers, school resource officers, the vehicle fleet and firearm training. He said that although his typical day might look different than it did when he was starting out, his heart still remains on supporting his team and community.

“I like for the guys that work here now to have it better than when I came up through patrol. I like for it to be better for them than it was for me,” he explained. “It’s kind of like, with kids, you want better for them than what you had. I want to make the right decisions to keep morale up and, at the same time, have the guys out there with what they need.

“It’s a brotherhood; the whole sheriff’s office is all one big family.”

In 2017 Shands was recognized by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office as Supervisor of the Year, and he received the Law Enforcement Commendation Medal that same year from the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

When he is not working in the office, Shands said he likes to continue to serve on patrol. He said his personal approach to law enforcement is to assess each situation individually, with a goal to always to make the decision that best serves the community.

“Every situation is different; everybody doesn’t deserve to go to jail,” Shands said. “You have to take what’s best for each scenario and evaluate it and try to make the best decision for that person, for the community and for the safety of others.”

Shands said the best advice he would give to anyone starting out in law enforcement is to try to never bring work home. For Shands, that is accomplished by going to the gym and spending time with his wife, Lynsey, and 6-year-old son, Brody.