Let’s Kick ItDecember 2023
Dynamic DuosFebruary 2024
by Kristy Como Armand
Gary “Stitch” Guillory began his law enforcement career as a 21-year-old rookie in 1983, working patrol, with the Westlake Police Department. He was promoted to numerous positions, moving up through the ranks in the department to Assistant Chief of Police before being appointed interim Chief of Police in 1997. The following year, he was elected Chief of Police, and in 2002, he was re-elected without opposition to serve another four years.
In July 2004, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso selected Stitch to serve as his Chief Deputy, a position he held until being elected Sheriff in November of last year. When he takes office in July, Guillory will make history as the first African American sheriff in Calcasieu Parish.
Thrive recently spoke to Guillory about his 40-year law enforcement career and plans as sheriff.
When did you first become interested in law enforcement?
At a really young age. I grew up in low-income housing in Lake Charles and we often looked at the police as the enemy there, sometimes because of the way that they treated people in our neighborhood. I knew it shouldn’t be that way – didn’t have to be that way – and that is where my interest began. In the years right after high school, I worked two jobs; one at the Lake Charles Country Club, as a waiter and bartender, and the second at a gas station servicing cars in Westlake. Both jobs gave me great experience in serving others and learning how to deal with all types of people, but I wasn’t really sure what my next step was going to be. The Westlake Police Department was a customer of the service station I worked at, and I often had conversations with the chief and other officers. The chief encouraged me to apply for an opening, and I did.
What do you enjoy the most about working in law enforcement?
Giving back to the community. I love working with our team and other organizations to make our community better. I got into law enforcement to make a difference, and that’s the reason I show up every day. I know the work we do best is helping people in our community, whether it’s by responding to a crisis or working with kids in programs like DARE.
How do you feel about making history as the first African American Sheriff in Calcasieu Parish?
It’s an honor and something I don’t take lightly. I owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before me and paved the way and who didn’t have the opportunities I’ve had to advance in my career. If I can be a role model for younger people of progress and opportunity in our community, I’m proud to do that.
What is the best advice you ever received?
To treat people how you want to be treated. I heard that often from my parents. Very few households in my neighborhood growing up had both parents like I was fortunate to have. My parents were both hard workers who treated everyone with the same level of respect, regardless of their circumstances. That’s a lesson I learned from them at a young age that I’ve taken with me through life.
What are the strengths of CPSO?
Our employees are our biggest strength, along with our relationship with the community we serve. We have some of the most dedicated people I’ve ever had the honor to work with here at CPSO. You know, you see in the news about problems and conflicts in other parts of the county between law enforcement and the community. We don’t have that here. We have a great relationship with our community because that is our priority.
What are you most proud of in your career up to this point?
Being able to be part of organizations that serve our community well and being involved in making Southwest Louisiana a safer, better place to live through not just my job, but by getting involved in many other ways. I’ve had the pleasure to volunteer and serve in leadership positions with a variety of organizations that do great work helping those in need. I’m proud of the work I’ve done with young people across our community, of training and mentoring young officers, and in helping the victims of crime regain control of their lives. I’m exceptionally proud to be part of the CPSO and the team of leaders who work every day to strengthen the trust that is vital for our continued positive relationship with our community.
What changes will you focus on as Sheriff?
Retention and hiring are the biggest issues facing law enforcement everywhere and this is true here too. We’ll be working to hire 70 correctional deputies to get the prison re-opened in the fall. We must make sure we can pay our deputies competitively and provide them with the training and equipment they need to do their jobs well. I’ll also be focused on opening up lines of communication even more between our office and the community. I think we do a great job of that now, but we will always work to improve this. Technology in our field is evolving rapidly and I want to make sure our team has access to these advances to protect our citizens. I am thankful for the trust the community expressed in me by electing me sheriff and I’m hard at work during this transition phase to put our leadership team and plan in place. Our job is to ensure a safer and stronger community and that level of leadership starts at the top, with me.