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franklin county times

Pinkard leaving sheriff’s office

In the next several weeks, the face of law enforcement in Franklin County will change ever so slightly from the way it has looked for the past 20 years.

To some people, the change might be small enough to go unnoticed, but to others, the change will make quite an impact.

Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigator Sgt. Greg Pinkard, who has been a staple in Franklin County when it comes to getting drugs off the streets, has officially accepted a position with the Alabama Deputy State Fire Marshall’s Office and will be putting his drug-busting days behind him.

But Pinkard said he wouldn’t be leaving Franklin County empty handed. He has a host of memories, friendships and life experiences he’ll be bringing along with him.

“I just knew that being in law enforcement was something I wanted to do,” Pinkard said. “I knew people who were involved in law enforcement and it really seemed like it would be the best career for me to pursue.”

Pinkard said he made this decision when he was a senior at Phil Campbell High School in 1990, and in 1992, he joined the FCSO’s reserve program. By the end of that same year, he started working with the agency full-time as a corrections officer, dispatcher and paper server.

Pinkard officially went to the police academy in Tuscaloosa in March of 1993 and said if he didn’t already know he had made the right decision, he knew it then.

“Some people think they want to be in law enforcement, but when it comes right down to it, it’s not what they’ve imagined it to be,” he said. “After I went to the academy, I knew it was the right choice. It was where I wanted to be.”

After Pinkard emerged from the academy ready to serve and protect the people in Franklin County, he found out there weren’t any openings as a road deputy with the sheriff’s office.

“I knew I wanted to be serving somewhere, so when I found out there was a position as a patrol officer and investigator with the Phil Campbell Police Department, I took it,” he said.

From 1994 to 1995, Pinkard served in that capacity at the PCPD while he completed his Associates Degree in criminal justice.

When a spot opened up at the sheriff’s office in 1995 for a litter officer and a deputy, he took the chance to get his foot back in the door at the place he first started out as a reserve.

“After I started working there, I got involved with drug investigations part-time and it just eventually evolved into me doing investigations all the time,” he said. “The rest is history, I guess, because that’s where I’ve been ever since.

“I’ve worked under two great sheriffs, Sheriff Plott and Sheriff Oliver, and they both have been dedicated to their jobs. In our line of work, you see the worst of the worst, but you can also see the best of the best. Knowing you work for a good department and that you are actually making a difference to some people makes it worth it.”

Over the years, Pinkard said he’s been involved in more drug busts, undercover operations, investigations and arrests than he can ever keep up with, but he said there are a few cases over the years that will stand out.

“One of the biggest cases I can think of was the Pugh murder case back in 1997,” he said. “It was an armed robbery and capital murder case where a father and son were murdered in Colbert County. The case had ties to Franklin County, so we assisted the other agencies in their investigation.

“That case stands out to me because it was interesting as an investigator to assist in the capture of people who were wanted for a capital offense. And those of us that helped with the case were actually given awards from the FBI, so that makes it pretty memorable, too.”

Most recently, Pinkard has been part of the newly formed Franklin County Drug Unit that has been dedicated to investigating complaints of drug activity in the area.

“The drug unit is something I am very proud to say I’ve been a part of,” he said. “It took us over 20 years to get a drug unit re-established in this county and I think it’s doing a lot of good to keep some of these drugs off the street that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.”

Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said it will definitely be different not having Pinkard in the county as an investigator anymore.

“I’ve worked with Greg for more than 14 years and in that time I’ve seen how hard Greg works on every single case and how dedicated he is to seeing justice served,” Rushing said. “I could always call on Greg anytime a case needed to be worked because I knew he would follow-up and do the job well. That kind of dedication and service will be hard to replace.”

Franklin County Sheriff Shannon Oliver agreed that Pinkard’s work ethic was something he was known for.

“Greg has been such a hard worker and he was always diligent in everything he did,” Oliver said. “It will be different around the office without him here, but we wish him the best in his new job.”

In the end, Pinkard made the decision to accept his new position because he said he believed it would be a better move for him both professionally and personally, but it wasn’t a decision he arrived at lightly.

“Leaving the sheriff’s office and a county that his been home to me for so long is definitely bittersweet,” Pinkard said. “I have made some good memories here and I’d like to think that in some way I was able to make this county a little bit safer for all my friends and colleagues I’m leaving behind.”