Retiring Lauderdale County Sheriff looks back on half-century career

Florence, Alabama (WHNT) — Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton will officially retire next week after more than 50 years in law enforcement.

His long career was filled with unique incidents culminating in one of the largest manhunts in Alabama history.

“50 years have gone by so quickly,” Singleton told News19. I remember that first night like it was yesterday. “

Singleton said he had two dream jobs as a child: being a police officer and becoming a professional wrestler. He began his police career in the early 1970s, but was known as Doctor His Death on weekends.

“It was just another childhood dream I had,” he said. “I always wanted to be a cop and a wrestler. And I got the unique privilege of being able to do both. .”

But this is just the beginning of Singleton’s legacy.

In his first assignment with the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), Singleton says he remembers working in nearly 100-degree heat at a local high school football game. From that moment on, he strived to be the best officer he could be.

After spending just five years in the department, Singleton launched his first sheriff’s campaign.

“I worked here for a total of about five years [and] I ran for sheriff when I was 26, just like I thought I was eligible,” Singleton commented.

Despite losing his first bid for sheriff, Singleton went on to have a career like no other. He became an officer of the Firenze Police Department and served as its chief for 16 years. It’s also where he met his friend and successor, Sheriff-Elect Joe Hamilton.

Hamilton has been part of his administration since Singleton became sheriff in 2015. Now, he says, Hamilton is grateful to be able to hold onto the torch.

Hamilton said, “He has done great things for the department and the community. We are very grateful for his time as Sheriff and wish him well in his retirement.

For Sheriff Singleton, it’s hard to talk about his career without talking about the escape of Casey White, one of the biggest cases in state history. It’s a mark of his legacy that won’t be forgotten anytime soon, but he says he’s proud of the way he and his team have responded.

“In this job you have to accept what comes your way,” Singleton explained. “You know, if you’re an administrator, a sheriff, or a police chief, you can’t control the hands that are played. You just play with the hands that you’re dealt.”

When I talk to people who work in the sheriff’s office, they all have a great deal of respect for the program Singleton built. They appreciate his positive attitude, work ethic, and leadership.

“I’ve always thought about what I can do today to make things better for tomorrow,” he said.

To show their appreciation, the Sheriff’s Office employees gave Singleton one final gift. It’s what he’s spent his life trying to get: a championship belt.

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