ST. GEORGE — Hundreds gathered Monday evening in the auditorium at Dixie Technical College honor Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher, who is leaving his post after serving the people of Washington County for 35 years.
Attendees to Monday’s event traveled from all over Utah to honor Pulsipher, who announced his retirement in October and will officially step down as sheriff on Dec. 1.
Pulsipher spoke at the start of the event and opened by giving his wife, Cathy, a bouquet of 35 red roses – one for each of the years he has served with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, he said.
He also spoke of several impactful moments over the years. He said it all started with a drowning at Quail Creek Reservoir, when he looked into the eyes of a father who had just lost his son. He said he knew at that moment that what he wanted most was to help people.
Washington County Undersheriff Nate Brooksby also spoke at the event and described the first time he met Pulsipher years ago at a crash on Red Hills Parkway.
As soon as Pulsipher pulled up, Brooksby said, the sheriff jumped in to help, and it was the way in which Pulsipher carried himself and his willingness to serve that caught the young sergeant’s attention.
St. George Police Chief Kyle Whitehead presented Pulsipher with an award of appreciation and service as well as two large box frames containing law enforcement patches from multiple agencies throughout Utah and beyond.
Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams also presented Pulsipher with an award for his service to the Washington County community.
“You’ve been a giant in our law enforcement community and you will be missed,” Williams said.
Sgt. Darrell Cashin with the Washington County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue program also spoke during the celebration, bringing more than a dozen of the search and rescue volunteers to the stage to recognize and applaud the sheriff.
Cashin also presented the sheriff with a handcrafted “blue line” fishing pole, an item that Search and Rescue Commander Joe McArthur had custom made for Pulsipher by Terry Erickson, since the sheriff would be “spending a lot of time fishing.” Cashin also presented a plaque signed by each rescue team member and thanking him for all of the support over the years.
Washington County Commissioners Gil Almquist, Victor Iverson and Adam Snow also spoke during the gather and related many memories involving the sheriff over the years, and County Administrator Nicholle Felshaw presented Pulsipher with a piece of artwork created by a local artist.
Following the presentations the crowd gathered in the large atrium where tables were lined with refreshments created and served by Dixie Technical College’s culinary arts students.
Among the crowd was Utah Highway Patrol Col. Michael Rapich, Maj. Beau Mason and Lt. Shawn Judd. Rapich and Mason traveled to St. George from the UHP headquarters office located in Taylorsville in northern Utah.
Also in attendance were Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke; Kristy Pike, director of the Washington County Children’s Justice Center; former Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap; and Marlon Stratton, the former St. George Police Chief who spent many years behind the grill with Pulsipher cooking breakfast for hundreds of children before the “Shop with a Cop” event held each year.
Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. David Crouse and his wife, LaVerkin Police Sgt. Amber Crouse, were also among the crowd. Both recently retired and were at the event on the eve of leaving Southern Utah to relocate to Texas.
In the beginning
During an interview with St. George News at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Hurricane on Tuesday, Pulsipher went over his many experiences over the years.
Pulsipher started his career with the Washington City Police Department in 1987 after then-Police Chief Brent Chandler, who Pulsipher joked was familiar with him from his teen years following a number of traffic stops, suggested he consider a law enforcement career.
Soon after, Pulsipher went on a ride-a-long with an officer to see first-hand the role law enforcement has within the community. During that ride-along, he said, one suspect was arrested, and soon after, he ended up at the scene of a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver, which is when he knew he wanted to work in law enforcement.
After going through the police academy, he started with the Washington City Police Department. Shortly thereafter, the department was disbanded, he said, which is when his path changed, and in 1987, he began his career with the Sheriff’s Office. For the next 17 years he worked as a patrol deputy on the graveyard shift.
From there, he was promoted up the chain, and when he became a lieutenant, he took a position in police administration, which was a venue he “surprisingly” enjoyed and held for the next seven years or so.
He said he had a decision to make when the previous sheriff, whom Pulsipher admired, stepped down and the position opened up. With more than 25 years in law enforcement by then, Pulsipher could’ve simply retired himself, but instead of leaving the department, he ran for sheriff and was elected, starting his term Jan. 5, 2011.
Pulsipher also became involved in the Search and Rescue program early in his career, he said, and he continued serving in that program for the next three decades. He became a member of the dive team and completed numerous training courses all over the country, which he said allowed him to participate in just about every type of water rescue or recovery.
The program also led to friendships that have endured for more than three decades, many of whom have since retired but still attended Monday’s retirement celebration.
Pulsipher said that after more than 11 years serving as sheriff, he was diagnosed with cancer and has suffered debilitating health conditions since then, so he decided to retire a year before his term officially ends. He also said he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, adding he recently became a grandfather with a second grandchild on the way.
When asked what he will miss most, Pulsipher said he will miss the people he has worked with and come to know over the last 35 years as well as the regular interactions with those he has grown close to while serving the citizens of Washington County.
He said it has been the opportunity to serve the community, a role he has taken very seriously, that has been one of the highlights of his career.
Reflecting back on that first ride-a-along from decades ago, he said it was the duty to serve that was evidenced by everyone working at the scene that night that inspired him to become a law enforcement officer, and that’s what had fueled his progression through the sheriff’s office for so many years.
Pulsipher said he wouldn’t necessarily miss the job, “but I will really miss the people.”
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