Larry Amerson, former sheriff of Calhoun County, said his wife, Lisa, tells him he is not retired, even though he no longer wears a badge or receives a paycheck. He still works hard to improve the career field he loved.
Recently Amerson, who retired little more than a year ago, paused in the middle of a busy day to reflect on his six terms as sheriff, not counting the 20 or so years he spent in law enforcement leading up to taking the reins of sheriff.
“I have time to do things outdoors,” he said. “Lisa and I love to fish. We are remodeling our home, and I like to hunt and have a son I do that with.“
He returned recently from a trip to Uganda to assist with a missionary program run by Calhoun County native Jimmy Barry. Amerson went with other members of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church that he attends. Their task was to spread the gospel of Jesus to people in the slums and refugee camps.
“I had always wanted to go but never before had the time,” Amerson said.
He said most of the people they met were eager to speak to them and often pulled up chairs or benches for the visitors. Barry leads a program for the International Missions for Christ, which feeds, for a period of time, those in the poorest of places. The program teaches the recipients to save their money during that time and start a business, such as buying and selling produce or buying a goat.
Amerson’s other pursuits often require him to travel. He has been to Israel three times during his career to talk with that country’s leaders about confronting terrorism. He travels several times a year to assist with the running of programs related to national law enforcement, often finding himself in Washington, D.C. to share information about governmental officials.
“For a boy from Wellborn, I have had opportunities to work on many levels of law enforcement, from local to state to national,” he said.
Amerson was a seven-year-old child when his father died. He and his mother moved into a small house with her sister who had four children. He grew up in a three-bedroom house with only one bathroom. Because the family was so close, Amerson calls his cousins “cousin brother” or “cousin sister.“ One died of cancer within the past few years, but retirement has allowed him to bond even further with the others and with members of his extended family.
“I grew up living near other aunts and uncles,” Amerson said. “My family has always been close.
For 28 years, Amerson said his job as sheriff required him to be on call seven days a week, 24-hours a day. Locally, he is still on the 911 board, a program in Calhoun County that he implemented as sheriff.
American is working with the FBI to create a database about the proper ways to use force by law officers. He is still active in the National Sheriff’s Association, which he once headed as president. He is on the national board of the Public Safety Advisory Council, which works to establish designated communications between all public-safety agencies. He serves as an alternate for a member of the SAFECOM team, which studies, for analysis purposes, how public-safety entities can share resources and equipment. One improvement he wants to see implemented in all states is how cameras in places like schools can be linked to communication devices and placed in the hands of law enforcement officers.
“The technology exists that allows officers to see into the hallway of a school before they even enter it,” he said. He added that the problems regarding school shootings could be better addressed if school officials, mental-health professionals, and law-enforcement officers are able to work together to determine who is most likely to commit the crimes and to help them.
Amerson, an avid reader, said he said he is a typical man when it comes to developing an interest in some things, such as cooking.
“Meat and grill,” he said. “That’s about it.”
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