County sheriffs are often equipped with guns and Tasers, but new Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers says he’s carrying an even stronger weapon in his arsenal – love.
On Thursday, Dec. 13, Rogers took a tour of the Guilford County jail in downtown Greensboro – known among law enforcement officials as “Jail Central,” and, while there, he did something very unusual for a sheriff: He hugged inmates and tried to spread love in other ways as well. Rogers also delivered fatherly advice to the inmates with a message of redemption.
Rogers made redemption a theme of his campaign – he has a troubled past and some criminal charges to show for it, but a tearful Rogers said after he was elected that his mother didn’t give up on him and the people of Guilford County didn’t give up on him – which is why he’s now sheriff.
Sheriff Rogers got the job by soundly defeating six-term Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes and, on Thursday when Rogers took the jail tour, inmates must have been shocked to see the new sheriff – the man in charge of keeping them behind bars – passing out hugs.
“The trustees that work there in the kitchen – I’m hugging ‘em,” Rogers said. “I’m loving on ‘em. I go in the pods, I shake their hands. I talked to the 19-year-olds, the 20-year-olds, the 18-year-olds, and I ask them: Why are you here?
And I sat down beside one young man, and I said ‘It’s your choice,’” Rogers said.
Rogers told the young man he had the power to change things.
The new sheriff added that he is not naïve: He said he’s totally aware that at some point someone could jump him,
“But if I want them to show themselves as friendly I must show myself that way,” he said.
Rogers said he has instructed the detention officers never to mistreat the inmates. He said the inmates need to know that they are loved even if they have done something wrong.
“OK, I’m in the uniform; I’m the sheriff; I’ve got the title,“ Rogers said, “but that doesn’t excite me. I’m grateful for where I’m at, but what excites me is whether we can touch somebody else. That’s the key. That’s the key, man.”
Rogers added that the other members of his top command felt the same way.
“Two things I do know,” he said, “because the word of God has told us: We’re born and we’re gonna die. It’s in between, and what we do, that makes it important.”