SHELBY — For nearly 20 years, the Toole County Sheriff’s Office has had the same woman running it - Donna Whitt. Now, she’s calling it a career and is ready to move on from law enforcement.
She is approaching her retirement but remains grateful for everything Toole County has given her: “I hope that I left trust in law enforcement in Toole County. Absolutely I’ve had a lot of support from the public here. We’ve had a great relationship. They’ve been able to come to me and I hope that continues after I’m gone.”
Whitt's career in law enforcement began when she was hired by Sheriff John Brooks as a dispatcher in 1981 at the age of 19. In June of 1986, she successfully tested for and was hired as a Deputy Sheriff. She was appointed Chief Deputy by Sheriff Vern Anderson in 1991. She served in this capacity until July of 2002 when Sheriff Anderson appointed her as his Undersheriff. On January 1, 2003 Donna Whitt was elected as the first female sheriff in the history of Toole County.
A lot has changed during Whitt’s tenure as Sheriff, and she’ll be the first to tell you some things changed for the better.
“There’s been a lot of change. When I first started, my first patrol car had no cage, no cameras, we had a handheld radar. Sometimes the top lights worked, sometimes they didn’t,” Whitt joked. “Now we have all the up-to-date equipment… and it’s saved peoples’ careers.”
Whitt says she had numerous opportunities to go for bigger jobs, but they just couldn’t take the Whitt out of Toole County.
“Things come up. Of course, we’re on the border and there’s federal jobs and it just never interested me. I like serving the people of Toole County. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”
When you work the same job for long enough, you tend to collect some memories from over the years. One of Donna’s most vivid memories sits on the top of her shelf in the form of a white helmet.
“We were training and had to drive a four-wheeler up and around a curve. My competitive side came out a bit and I wanted to beat all the guys’ times,” Whitt joked. “I ended up rolling it over the top of the embankment and had tire marks going every which way over me. That helmet saved my life.”
That’s just one of countless memories Donna has of her time as sheriff and is proud to of been a part of serving her county.
She also has pictures of every Sheriff in Toole County history and sees a lot of pride and work done in the people in those photos: “Those plaques with all the county sheriffs, when I look at it I just hope I made them proud. That I left a mark.”
Whitt will continue to serve as Toole County Sheriff until her replacement is elected and sworn in.
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