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County jailer to retire today
Henry County Capt. Michael Whitlow will retire today from the Henry County Sheriff’s Office as a jailer. He has worked in law enforcement for almost 30 years with the office. Whitlow says he doesn’t have any plans for his retirement, just “whatever the good Lord brings.” (Bulletin photo)
Monday, October 7, 2013
By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
When he started working in the Henry County Jail, Capt. Michael Whitlow admitted he was a little nervous.
“When you first walk into (the jail) and you’re not used to that sort of thing,” Whitlow said, “the inmates ... they know you’re new, and they’re going to try you; they’re going to see what you’re made of.”
Whitlow’s days as a newcomer at the jail are long over, and today, after nearly 30 years with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, the 60-year-old will retire from his role as captain of corrections/jail administrator.
When he was still new on the job, Whitlow recalled, he learned that one inmate had to be moved. However, there was a complication.
“He had made himself a homemade weapon: a bar of soap in a sock,” Whitlow said. “It hurts pretty good when you get hit with it.”
The inmate was standing in the cell holding the weapon and said he wasn’t planning on moving anytime soon. Whitlow and his colleagues had no choice but to go into the cell to try to change his mind.
“The guy that I was working with at the time, he put me up front and just gave me the first push through the door,” Whitlow said. “I really had no idea what I was going to do. I just walked toward the inmate. By the time I approached him, he dropped his weapon and came with us without incident.”
It was a test of his mettle, Whitlow said, but it also was a trust-building exercise: His colleagues wanted him to know that they had his back, just as they expected him to have theirs.
“You have to learn to trust one another,” he said. “You have to know that if you get in a situation, someone’s going to be there to help you. You treat them like family.”
Whitlow began his career as a deputy in March 1984, moving up the ranks until he became captain of corrections/jail administrator in 2007. In addition to overseeing the jail and making sure it ran smoothly, he was in charge of court security.
According to Whitlow, mutual respect was the key to a successful career in the Henry County Jail.
“Every inmate is different,” he said. “You just have to deal with them on an individual basis. You have to treat them fair. I find most of the time, if you treat them with respect, they’ll do the same for you.”
“I still meet inmates out on the street,” he added. “They’ll stop me and speak to me. When you work in the jail, you get to know them.”
When it comes to post-retirement plans, Whitlow is playing it by ear.
“Whatever the good Lord brings,” he said. “I don’t really have plans. I have some things to catch up on around the house, and then see what doors open to me.”