Friday, January 11, 2019, was a special day in Alabama State History as Mark Levy Pettway was sworn in as the first African American Jefferson County Sherriff. Pettway was sworn in at a ceremony held at Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham. Pettway defeated five-time incumbent Sheriff Mike Hale in November of 2018.
Pettway grew up near Legion Field in the College Hills neighborhood. He was one of six children. His father was a career military man, and his mother was an educator. His grandfather, Levi Satisfield Sr., was a well-known minister in Ensley. Pettway followed in his footsteps and went into the ministry.
1991 marked the beginning of Pettway’s professional career at the Birmingham Police Department, where he served as a Correctional Specialist. In 1993, he joined the Fairfield Police Department as a police officer. There he strengthened the law enforcement system by responding to calls, making arrests, issuing citations, and testifying in court cases. In 1999, he joined the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy. In 2008, he was promoted to detective.
In 2012, Mark was selected as an IRS Task Force Officer, enforcing federals laws of money structuring, racketeering, money laundering, and the Bank Secrecy Act. Shortly after in 2013, Pettway was promoted to Detective Sergeant, a position which demanded an even greater amount of relentless dedication. At this point, Mark began to serve in the areas of criminal investigation, involving crimes of burglary, theft, and fraud.
Pettway is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Police Benevolent Association and a former member of the Law Enforcement Bicycle Association. He graduated from Ensley High School and attended Jefferson State Community College. Pettway eventually graduated with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Faulkner University, Montgomery, AL., and is a certified instructor at the Jefferson County Sheriff Apost Training Academy. Currently, Pettway teaches Cyber Crime and ID Theft education classes.
Mark and his wife Vanessa have been married for 25 years and have two daughters, Markia and Gabrielle., both graduated from the University Of Alabama. Both of Pettway’s daughters are teachers now one for Jefferson County Schools and the other for the Birmingham City School System. The Pettway’s have served for over 15 years as licensed staff ministers at their local church.
The swearing-in ceremony at Greater Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church was presided of by Senior Pastor, Reverend Michael W. Wesley Sr. The Ramsay High School ROTC posted the colors. The Pledge Of Allegiance was led by Micah Williams, a student at Bessemer City High School. God Bless America was sung by Alabama School Of Fine Arts student Natalie Brasher. The oath of office was administered by former federal Judge U.W. Clemon. In his remarks after being sworn in Pettway paid tribute to the man who hired him onto the Fairfield Police Department Larry Langford who was the former Mayor of Fairfield and Birmingham and passed earlier in the week. The room was filled with a who’s who of politicians, business owners, and citizens too many to list.