Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed former Mobile County Deputy Sherriff, Captain, and Alabama Rep. Shane Stringer to the newsmakers line to explain the events that led to his termination based on his bill for constitutional carry.
Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by State Representative Shane Stringer from Alabama. A Republican from Mobile and also works as a Deputy Sheriff in the Mobile County Sheriffs, or did actually work as a Deputy Sheriff until Wednesday.
He was a captain there. And the Sheriff Sam Cochran, fired him because as a state legislator, he introduced a bill that promoted constitutional carry gun rights for Alabamians. Welcome, Shane Stringer.
Stringer: Yes, sir. Thank you all for having me.
Leahy: Did I get that right? It doesn’t seem to make sense to me. Is that really what happened?
Stringer: Yeah. I’m still in shock over it myself. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it and trying to figure out what happened. I’ve never in a million years imagine something like this would happen.
Leahy: By what legal authority does the sheriff of Mobile County have to fire you for an action you took as a state legislator?
Stringer: I think he’s going to have some legal problems or could have some. Definitely not a, I don’t think it was a very wise move. I mean, not because it’s me. I don’t know. It’s kind of sad whenever a day and age, whenever he and I get along, we’re like-minded. We agree on probably 99 percent of the things and then to be terminated over one issue is pretty concerning to me well.
Leahy: Well he apparently has admitted to a media outlet in Washington County that the reason you were fired is because you sponsored this constitutional carry bill in the state legislature. Is that the only reason he gave you?
Stringer: That’s what he said. And I tried to explain to him that I represent 42,000 people in my district. I explained that to him when he hired me, that I represent them. And there would be times that we would be on opposite sides of the aisle on issues.
The Alabama Republican Party has recently has done a poll that showed that 71 percent of our population believes that we should have constitutional carry here. I did a lot of homework. I reached out to other sheriffs and other states that had constitutional carry there.
They said the crime didn’t go up, and even one Sheriff said the crime went down and their pistol permit sales only went down a small amount. It’s definitely not an officer safety issue. Mobile Police Department has roughly 500 police officers and Mobile County Sheriff’s Department has roughly 150.
And I’ve been reached out to. I would be willing to bet over 100 officers have called me thanking me for standing up for this, and they don’t believe that it’s an officer safety issue.
Leahy: How long have you worked for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office?
Stringer: 18 years.
Leahy: 18 years!
Leahy: And how long has Sam Cochran been sheriff there?
Stringer: He has been since 2006.
Leahy: State Representative Shane Stringer, formerly with the Mobile County Sherriff’s Office, formerly a captain. Aren’t there policies and procedures about termination?
Stringer: There are. In 2011 when I left the sheriff’s department and went to a smaller city as the chief of police I stayed there for nine years. And during that time, I ran for the state legislature, which is a part-time position.
And whenever I got it under state law you can be any position in law enforcement except for the chief of police. And basically, that’s because you vote on a lot of stuff that is related to law enforcement. And for ethical reasons, you can’t be the top law enforcement officer.
So I spoke to the sheriff, which was a friend of mine, I thought. And I asked him about coming back. And he said, sure, that he had one position, an appointed position that he could bring me back in. And he would bring me back in as a captain and put me over one of the cities that contract with us.
It has 20, 21 officers there and I oversee that unit and run that unit. And then whenever we’re in session, three months a year on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I’m in Montgomery. I just take a vacation and go take care of that.
Leahy: So he hired you back when? How long ago did he hire you back to do that job?
Stringer: Three years ago.
Leahy: So you’ve been doing it for three years. But are there rules in the Sheriff’s Department for termination?
Stringer: There are. And there are different rules. We have a merit system so it’s different rules for the merit system employees. And then there are different rules for the appointed employees. And Alabama is an at-will state so it makes it a little easier for an employee to fire you.
Basically, they could fire you for no reason. Whenever he fired me for my beliefs and constitutional carry and the Second Amendment is where he made the mistake. I think he did wrong under state law.
Leahy: Do you plan on suing him?
Stringer: I’ll have to review that. This week has been a total shock. My family and I have kind of been in a crisis and just kind of managing the media first that took place with all of this. And the outpour of support. I’m receiving thousands of calls from all over the country.
Leahy: Were you terminated immediately?
Stringer: I was.
Leahy: So when is your last paycheck?
Stringer: The end of this month.
Leahy: How are you paying your bills?
Stringer: Luckily, I’m good with my money, and I manage my money well. And so we’re okay for now. But I’m definitely looking for another job as we speak. We’ll get back on our feet.
Leahy: Do you want to have a job in law enforcement?
Stringer: We’ll see. I’m sure I can. I’ve got a great reputation in our County. And like I said, I’ve been the chief of police for two different cities here. I worked for the Sheriff Department. I’ve been in law enforcement for 30 years. I’ve got a great reputation. I’m sure I’ll have no problems getting a job. It just depends on what type of job.
Leahy: Would you consider running for sheriff against Sam Cochran who fired you?
Stringer: Well, I was not. And that was an issue. I’ve had a lot of people over the years ask me to consider that. And I have considered it, but I was about 90 percent sure I was not. But now that this has happened, I’m going to have to reevaluate that and try to make some decisions here in the next six months.
Leahy: So did Sam Cochran, the Sheriff who fired you, give you any advanced warning? I mean, this wasn’t a surprise that you were sponsoring this bill, right? When did you first introduce the bill?
Stringer: No. Approximately two months ago.
Leahy: Did he communicate with you when you introduce the bill that it was an issue for him?
Stringer: No. He and I have been talking since I’ve been back with the Sheriff part for the last three years. I’ve been talking to him about constitutional carry and explaining to him that I wanted to carry it. I’ve been telling him that there was a lot of push forward in my district, and I represent my district, not just my views.
And he even admitted he said, well, it’s coming. We fought it off as long as we could. I wish we could kick the can down the road a little bit longer, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. And then when I got ready to drop the bill, I contacted him. I was like, hey, I was going to let you know I’m dropping this.
He said, well, I wish you wouldn’t. And I said, I’ll think about it, but I really want to. So we hung up. I didn’t drop it to the next week. And then nothing was said that we’ve been talking in staff meetings and everything’s been going well.
And then I come on Wednesday, and I’m in the gym on the treadmill after lunch and I get a call to come in his office and I then go down and he tells me he’s terminating me.
Leahy: What exactly did he say to you?
Stringer: He just said when I walked in, he said, this is going to be uncomfortable. And I said, okay. I said, what’s going on? He said I’m terminating you. And I’m like, really? I said, for what? And he told me and I was like, wow.
I said, Sheriff, I think you’re making an emotional decision. I said you and I’ve been friends a long time. I’ve supported you and a lot of stuff and everything you’ve ever done, your elections, and everything else you’ve done. I’ve carried bills for you.
I’ve done stuff for you in the legislation to help you and help law enforcement. I said I’m disappointed. I can’t believe that you’re going to do this. And he said, well I’m doing it. And I said well, I really think I think you’re making a bad decision.
I said the Second Amendment the hottest topic in the country right now. I said, the polls are showing that 70 percent of the population won’t constitutional carry. And he said I don’t believe the polls.
Leahy: Maybe there’ll be a poll coming up soon that he may believe if somebody challenges him for his reelection.
Stringer: Yeah, he’s not running again this time.
Leahy: He’s not.
Stringer: No. So that may have played a part in it.
Leahy: Ahhh, interesting.
Listen to the full second hour here:
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Photo “Shane Stringer” by Shane Stringer.