Captain Chris George at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Photo by Kathryn Acree.
Captain Chris George will be quick to tell you that the day-to-day operations of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office are more about preventing things from happening than many people ever realize.
“If it’s predictable, it’s preventable,” he said. In addition to his duties for the sheriff’s office, this Chelsea father of three sons is the assistant cub master of Chelsea Pack 353 and a member of Liberty Baptist Church.
Is Birmingham home?
Yes, I was born in Birmingham and grew up in the area near the former Eastwood Mall. I went to Ramsey High School and then entered the Marine Corps for four years. While I was in the Marine Corps, I traveled overseas and visited 20 to 30 different countries. I was a radio operator and a paratrooper.
I came back home and started taking the tests for a civil service position for a police officer. The Corps showed me at a young age that I wanted to be a part of something. I wanted to serve. It took me about a year and a half to be hired here in the Shelby County Sheriff’s office, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.
How did you come to the Criminal Investigation Division?
I started first as a correctional officer and then moved to deputy. I worked the roads for about four or five years in the southern and eastern areas of the county. I was then assigned to investigations and then back to patrol as a sergeant for a few years. I tested for lieutenant and stayed on the road for about a year and a half, then moved to the Drug Task Force for a few years. In August 2011, I applied for captain and was appointed by Sheriff Chris Curry as one of four division commanders.
The Criminal Investigation Division is all crimes against property, people, theft, and violent crime. Part of this includes being over the Drug Task Force and SWAT team.
What “words of wisdom” would you give parents?
The first thing that I would like people to know is that as far as their children are concerned, they (the children) have no right to privacy. A lot of parents believe that kids have a right to privacy in their room or that they can’t search their purses or go through drawers in their rooms or their cars. They have no right to privacy. Zero. That’s your house; that belongs to you. You search their rooms, regardless of how much of an angel they may be or if they are the star football player. They have to be held accountable.
People would be surprised at how much their kids know about drugs. It’s on Facebook, Twitter—it’s everywhere. Not at age 15 or 16, but sixth and seventh grade. These kids know what drugs are. I say, “trust but verify,” as Ronald Reagan used to say. There are too many temptations out there, and statistics tell us that if you’ve not talked to your child about drugs by the time they are 11 years old, the odds are somebody else has.
Drug dealers go out and market their product. They are looking for customers, just like commercials you see on TV. They are only going to give you a small amount (of drugs.) Once they get you hooked, they know you are going to want more and more.
What are your thoughts on the new texting and driving law?
If there was any question, I think the law was needed because we are a society that seems to have trouble controlling ourselves. If you can’t comprehend that you are driving a 2,000-pound missile and if you take my eyes off the road long enough to send a text, what you may not understand is your concentration is on that device. When you’re traveling 60 miles per hour, in five seconds you can travel the length of a football field, and a lot can happen in one hundred yards. It’s unfortunate, but we are a society of laws because we have to be.
What are you passionate about?
Although my title is that of a captain, the core of me is a deputy sheriff, just like Mayberry’s “Andy” and “Barney.” I am one of Sheriff Curry’s “Barneys.” My passion is to make this county safe so that my three boys won’t decide when they’re older that they have to leave because it’s unsafe. That means that my passion is self-serving, but I want this place to stay safe.
I firmly believe that “if it is predictable, it is preventable.” I can predict everyday that someone is going to want to buy drugs, but if I can greatly restrain the supply, for example, then people will go somewhere else to buy.
There are a little over 230,000 people in the county in a little over 600 square miles; that’s a whole lot of people and a whole lot of mileage to cover at a rate of about 1.3 deputies per thousand people.
But, if we can keep it safe, when I retire, whenever that is, I hope to sit back and know this area was kept safe because of the efforts we did as a sheriff’s office to keep it safe. That’s got to be anyone in my profession’s biggest goal.