Limestone County Sheriff settling in to new role

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. — Joshua McLaughlin, Limestone County’s first new sheriff since the 1980s, says he’s just getting settled into his new role.

For Limestone County, there’s been a new sheriff in town for weeks, and he’s no stranger.

“I attended East Limestone High School,” said McLaughlin. “I’m not originally from this community, but the community is what made me. It’s the only place I’ve ever called home.”

McLaughlin told News 19 while he’s new to the office, he isn’t new to the field, having seen law enforcement from several different vantage points over the years, including as a deputy under former Sheriff Mike Blakely.

“I was in sheriff’s office 12 years,” McLaughlin said. ” I started as a corrections officer and reserve deputy went through the academy. Sheriff hired me as deputy, I began to move through the department, pretty quickly through the ranks and I ended as a lieutenant in narcotics before DA Brian Jones hired me as his chief investigator, I’ve been doing that for a little less than eight years.”

McLaughlin is now tasked with leading a department that was entirely handcrafted by Blakely, though he said he’s already made a few changes.

“The most notable was probably that I get the most comments is that a lot of the deputies to grow beards,” McLaughlin continued. “Some of them had tattoos that they’ve always had to cover up. I’ve allowed them to show those and express those.”

“It partly helps them, but it also helps the community relate to our officers, not so much on the military side of it,” said McLaughlin.

Sheriff McLaughlin, who was appointed to the job by Governor Kay Ivey in September, said he’s also made some staffing switches.

“I’ve made some supervisor changes, you know, just people that I feel can come and do the job,” McLaughlin stated. “That being said everybody else has stayed on on board and taken their role acceptingly and been good and worked hard for me so far.”

When asked if he had any hesitations about taking the job, McLaughlin said, “I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do when it came up. My wife and I, of course we prayed about it for a long time before we put an application for the appointment. It was almost the last day before I submitted it.”

McLaughlin said he had to reflect before turning in his application.

“I thought what kind of person would I want to go and be the sheriff for my family, and that someone who’s invested in the community who has an interest in the community, who truly loves the community,” McLaughlin concluded. “And think that I have that, I think I exemplify that.”

The job of Limestone County Sheriff is up for election next year, but McLaughlin didn’t say whether or not he plans to campaign for a full four-year term.

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