Greg Hagwood '89 (Criminal Justice)
The boy next door is now the sheriff next door. Greg J. Hagwood ’89 (Criminal Justice) has established a reputation as a fixture in Plumas County. He’s been part of the community in Quincy since he first moved to the county with his family at age 10.
“I can walk down the street and I see people that I’ve known my entire life,” he says. “When I was 11 years old I was their paper boy. Now I’m their sheriff.” Living just blocks away from where he grew up, Hagwood has dedicated more than 20 years of service to his community—one with a traditional Main Street and turn-of-the-century courthouse that many inhabitants have likened to Mayberry.
“You know everybody, and everybody knows you,” he says. “When you’re in an environment like that, I think it causes you to be more aware of individuals’ needs and expectations. They’ve been very responsive and supportive in my efforts.”
In 2010, Hagwood won the election for sheriff with overwhelming support. Since, he enhanced the Neighborhood Watch initiative and formed a Citizen Liaison Committee to increase transparency within the sheriff’s post. He speaks regularly to radio and news outlets to address citizens’ concerns, is the first to lend a hand to community members going through hard times and, for the first time in years, sees citizens stop by the sheriff’s office just for a quick hello.
“The level of understanding that my citizens have when it comes to law enforcement and public safety, and what the sheriff’s department does, is unparalleled,” Hagwood says.
The father of three also serves as an example to youth in the community, instituting the D.A.R.E program at local schools and mentoring those conducting senior projects in law enforcement. He even bought a nine-passenger van and trucks the high school ski team up to Lake Tahoe for weekend races.
“Being a younger sheriff, I still have the energy, the enthusiasm and, I think, the willingness to look at issues a little bit differently than perhaps older generations of law enforcement may have typically done,” he says.
In his high school days, Hagwood saw the allure of service and excitement in a law enforcement career. He decided to pursue that vocation with the top-notch Division of Criminal Justice at Sac State, where both his parents also attended school.
“Sac State has long been recognized as having an outstanding criminal justice program, so it seemed like a natural decision given my family’s history at Sac State,” he says.
Hagwood took a job as deputy sheriff during his last semester of college and quickly rose through the ranks including 16 years on the SWAT team, 13 years in narcotics enforcement and felony investigations, and promotions to sergeant and undersheriff.
“My education has served me very well in providing me the opportunity to advance and hold a number of different positions at the sheriff’s department,” he says.
What Sac State didn’t prepare him for, the law enforcement academy did. Hagwood has taken down meth labs and hung from the bottom of an in-flight helicopter before dropping into a marijuana field.
High-flying adventures behind him, Hagwood says moving forward he will continue to work with his staff to solve problems and provide public services that the community deserves and expects.
“One thing I always tell my staff is that we do the right thing for the right reason.”