Lt. Zettie Anderson, who worked for 30 years in the corrections facility for the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office, began her law enforcement career as a jailer-I on Jan. 22, 1993. She was one of the …
Lt. Zettie Anderson, who worked for 30 years in the corrections facility for the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office, began her law enforcement career as a jailer-I on Jan. 22, 1993. She was one of the first female lieutenants to serve at the facility.
Combined with Cpl. John Garner, the two served their community for 63 total years at the sheriff's office and were recently recognized by Baldwin County Commission upon their retirement.
During Anderson's time working for the corrections facility, the lieutenant helped train hundreds of officers.
Anderson recalled her time working as a first responder and recognized her supervisors for playing a crucial role in her growth at the BCSO.
"Over the past 30 years, I can truly say I had a great supervisor who taught me how to be a good leader," she said. "They all were always very respectful and never made you feel like you where you weren't important and part of the team."
She added she originally joined law enforcement because of the benefits. However, as she continued working for the county, she began to see her purpose.
"No matter how I got promoted, I never wanted any of my officers to think I couldn't come out and help them; because we were a team," Anderson said. "You must never forget where you came from because security is the most important part of this center. The most important thing to remember is key custody and control working inside the center. My career became much more than just needing insurance and I've enjoyed it."
The retiree said that during her time in the corrections facility she learned to treat the inmates with respect and dignity "even though they may not treat you the same."
"If you treat them with respect, they are more likely to treat you with respect," she said. "When you run into them in the community and if you were decent to them inside the jail, most likely they will be decent to you. Be aware of the inmate manipulators. Keep your personal life private."
Cpl. John Garner, who served 33 years at the BCSO and is a third-generation law enforcement officer, first started as a dispatcher in 1990.
One year later, Garner attended the police academy and came to the sheriff's office as a deputy sheriff. Garner was said to have been one of the founding members of the Baldwin County SWAT team, that was started in the 1990s.
Garner gave credit to the men and women he worked with for making his time as a law enforcement officer the best years.
The corporal shared multiple things he learned throughout his three decades of service.
"Communication. Being able to communicate effectively with coworkers and the public. Adaptability. Being able to adapt to changing circumstances. Empathy. When I was assigned to our criminal investigations division, I had a supervisor who stressed the importance of empathy when dealing with victims and suspects and teamwork," Garner said.
Looking back at his time serving the community, Garner recalls spending time with coworkers.
"Probably my favorite memories are just joking around and hanging out with my coworkers during our down times," he said.
The two former officers explained that the BCSO grew along with the community throughout the years.
"It is important for officers to serve our growing community because with the growth of the population there is also a growth in crime. It is our goal to keep the citizens safe," Garner said.
Anderson echoed his statements, stating, "The BCSCC has grown since the early '90s. The population for inmates has increased as well as the officers. The facility has added several different housing units as well as office space. When I started, there was no rank structure. It was all by seniority."
Sheriff Huey "Hoss" Mack explained how honored the county is to have officers like Anderson and Garner.
"You can retire from the retirement system at 25 years," Mack said. "So, it was really special when people decide to serve, you know, 30-plus years. They are working beyond the retirement time, and it just goes to show the dedication of these two individuals that they had to the sheriff's office."
The sheriff described the two officers as dedicated and passionate.
"They really embraced serving the public in their respective capacities," he said. "Mentorship, you know. The one thing I think they both contributed is why they were retiring. They knew they had helped train people that could step in, maybe not necessarily, you know, replace them, but at least be able to continue on and handle the job they stepped away from."
Mack noted that as Baldwin County grew over the years, Anderson and Garner followed the growth to ensure they were keeping up with the changes.
Baldwin County Commission has a policy that if anyone serves 30 years or more in the county, they receive a resolution. During their Oct. 17 regular meeting, commissioners recognized Anderson and Garner for their service.
"I can't even imagine what goes on inside that facility on a daily basis that always keeps y'all working and on your toes," Commissioner James Ball said. "I commend each and every one of our first responders and law enforcement personnel that work not only on the roads, but also in our correctional facility."