Southampton County sheriff to retire

Published 5:30 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Southampton County Sheriff J.B. “Jack” Stutts will not be running for re-election, but will instead retire at year’s end. He informed The Tidewater News via a letter to the editor he sent on Tuesday morning; the full content is on page A2.

Southampton County Sheriff J.B. “Jack” Stutts

When he was elected in 2011, Stutts became the first new county sheriff in 28 years. He had succeeded Vernie Francis, who had decided to retire that year after seven terms in office. By that Election Day, though, Stutts was already bringing 30 years of his own experience in law enforcement. As he told the paper in 2013, the decision to become a policeman was made in his teen years, and right after graduating from Franklin High School, he had gone to seek such a job in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The chief was appreciative of his enthusiasm, but urged Stutts to continue his education and come back at 21. Working his way through college doing construction work, he did resume his pursuit of a law career, this time with Southampton County Sheriff Ryland Brooks, who hired him as a deputy.

Since then, he worked his way up through the responsibilities and ranks.

As noted in his letter, Stutts acknowledged the challenges of the work: “While the job has its rewards, it was never an easy one. It is more difficult and demanding now requiring more from our deputies and other staff than ever before.”

An example he gave is that 37 years ago training at a police academy was done in 14 weeks, and now its nearly six months. Further, education doesn’t stop after graduation. There’s always a need to learn more about law enforcement via in-service or specialty schools. Through a grant from the Camp Family Foundation a few years ago, the sheriff’s office was able to create a high-caliber training facility that uses computer-generated simulations. This enables deputies to sharpen their skills in response and procedure for almost any given situation.

Stutts credited others for any success he’s enjoyed in his career: “I will leave knowing that your sheriff’s office is ready for the challenges of today’s world. Any success realized comes from a supportive wife and family, knowledgeable and experienced command and supervisory personnel, a hardworking, dedicated staff and one gem of an office manager … Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve.”

For the majority of his 11 years in the office, Lt. Camden Cobb has had Stutts as the sheriff.

Among the things that Cobb said he’s learned from him are “Persistence in the pursuit of criminal cases and, more importantly, that we are here for the people of the county, no matter how big or small their concerns are on any given day.”

The lieutenant also said he’s also come to learn and appreciate the value of being prepared and having regular training for different types of circumstances, including staying up to date “in this constantly evolving world.”

“I have very much enjoyed my time working for Sheriff Stutts,” said Cobb. “It’s been exciting to watch our agency grow. I hate to see him leave, but I wish him well in his retirement.”

Capt. Josh Wyche said of Stutts, “He’s been a real mentor to me, teaching about people in general and also to protect and serve. He really pushed me [career-wise,] saying ‘You can do it.’ I have him to thank for being in law enforcement.”

In case anyone is interested in filling Stutts’ shoes, the deadline to file an application to be on the ballot is Tuesday, June 11, at 7 p.m. Contact Southampton County Registrar Lynn Burgess for details.