After living his first 12 years in Tacoma, Washington, Sheriff Derrick Cunningham's parents moved the family to Tuscaloosa, AL. At the age of 21, he saw a TV commercial about careers within the Montgomery Police Department. In the ad, longtime Mayor Emory Folmar said, "if you think you got what it takes, give us a call". Subsequently, a young Derrick Cunningham picked up the phone. After graduating from the police academy in 1989, he ended up 10 years later in the Detective Division investigating homicides where he later became a member of the International Homicide Investigators Association. In 1999, Sheriff D.T. Marshall appointed him as his chief deputy, he served in that capacity for 15 years until he was sworn in January 2015 as the county's 39th sheriff and Montgomery's first African-American sheriff. In his capacity as Sheriff Cunningham heads an agency of over 300 employees and a $27 million dollar budget that spans a 643 square mile jurisdiction. For several decades, he has been among the most visible supporters of community-based policing, youth mentoring programs and utilizing smartphones and other technology to better serve the community and reduce crime.
Sheriff Cunningham has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Troy University and a Master of Science Degree from the University of Phoenix. Since the start of his law enforcement career, he has attended numerous schools and seminars throughout the United States. Sheriff Cunningham is a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy Class 231, he is retired from the Alabama National Guard with over twenty-four years of service and serves as the point of contact for Homeland Security for Montgomery County, overseeing funding for the county. In September 2015, Sheriff Cunningham graduated from the 108th National Sheriff's Institute in Aurora, Colorado and two years later he was sworn in as Sergeant of Arms with the Alabama Sheriff's Association.
If that isn't enough to fill a day, Sheriff Cunningham has been appointed to several state-wide committees by Governor Kay Ivey and he still finds time to serve on the Board of Directors of several non-profit agencies, among them are, Tri-County Alzheimer's Association, Victims of Crime and Leniency, YMCA, Kiwanis club and is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
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