Though he just realized it himself, Sheriff Sam Cochran is one of the more senior law enforcement officials in the area.
After moving up the ranks in a 31-year career with the Mobile Police Department, Cochran spent his last decade as chief before being elected sheriff in 2006. Now in his third term, Cochran has nabbed a 2016 Nappie for “Hardest Working Elected Official” in Mobile County.
While winning the award is “certainly an honor,” Cochran said his job doesn’t afford him many opportunities to take it easy.
“I do feel like I work hard, but I’ve got a lot to do. It’s not hard to find work around here,” he said. “There’s always something that can be done to improve the delivery of our services or meet the new challenges we see all the time.”
As sheriff, Cochran oversees more than 600 employees, from the deputies and investigators who work crimes throughout the county to the jailers who process and secure the inmates at the Mobile County Metro Jail.
Cochran said he can best serve those employees by “trying to knock down as many impediments” as he can to allow them to do their jobs more easily. The day-to-day operations, he said, boil down to “little things and big things.”
“Even something like making sure interactions with our officers are user friendly and modern, because everybody in the community is relying on technology,” Cochran said. “So, we have to make sure we’re moving in that direction and staying abreast of technology with them.”
In the last year, MCSO launched its own smartphone app that allows residents to submit crime tips, check on inmates in the jail or keep up with crime news in certain areas and throughout the county. Cochran said having that interface is crucial in this day and age.
Though he might like to consider himself a lawman first, the term “elected official” is a fancy way of saying “politician,” and Cochran said politicking comes with the badge.
“Most people do see me as being political but it’s a quasi law enforcement position. But in order to be successful, you’ve got to keep up with all those things and relationships that come into play,” he said.
According to Cochran, those relationships start with other county officials and stretch all the way to the Legislature in Montgomery. Cochran hasn’t shied away from state politics because, as he says, “it’s easier to stop a bad law from being passed than it is to get them to go back and change it.”
With experience dating back to the 1970s, Cochran said he’s become one of the more senior faces at the monthly meetings between county police chiefs — at least four of whom worked under him at one point or another.
“I like to hope that maybe something I did helped lead to their success,” Cochran said. “I’d hate to see them or their people get into a situation that could have been prevented with a little more training or a little more knowledge about a certain situation.”
Though Cochran is usually open to media requests, emails seeking a “get out of jail free card” for the Lagniappe staff for the 2016 Nappie Awards have gone unreturned. Though, we’re sure he’s just been busy.
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