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Al Cannon.jpg (7016 bytes)

James Alton Cannon, Jr.
3505 Pinehaven Drive
Charleston, SC 29405-7789
(843) 554-2485 (Phone)
(843) 308-7344 (Fax) (E-Mail) (Web)

James Alton Cannon, Jr., is the elected Sheriff of Charleston County.  He was first elected Sheriff in February 1988.  The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state of South Carolina, employing over 900 people. Sheriff Cannon is responsible for oversight of a budget of over $55 million.

Sheriff Cannon earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from the College of Charleston, a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina, and a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of South Carolina.   He is a member of the South Carolina Bar and the United States Supreme Court Bar. In 2012, Sheriff Cannon celebrated his 30th Anniversary of admission to the South Carolina Bar.

In 2006, he retired from the U. S. Air Force Reserves at the rank of Colonel after 29 years of service.  In his last assignment, he served as Reserve Commander of the 3rd Field Investigations Region, (AFOSI), Scott AFB, Illinois which provided investigative, counterintelligence and counterterrorism support to the fifteen USAF AMC bases located throughout the US.  Colonel Cannon was deployed to many sites around the world in a counterterrorism role with command authority over the security of deployed personnel. He became recognized by his peers as an expert in counterterrorism.  Cannon also served 4 years on active duty as a Russian translator stationed at Templehof Air Base, West Berlin during the height of the Cold War. 

Sheriff Cannon is married to Wallis Baldwin formerly of Sumter, South Carolina.  They have two children, James III (married to Alison Cordell) and Sara (married to Major Ryan Hanson).  They are the proud grandparents of four grandsons, Jac Cannon IV, Rhett Cannon, Bradshaw Hanson and Shepard Hanson, and one granddaughter, Emma Hanson.  They are members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC.

Sheriff Cannon’s career in law enforcement began in 1971 when he became a patrolman for the Charleston County Police Department.  He later worked as a police officer for the North Charleston Police Department rising through the ranks to Lieutenant before resigning in 1979 to enter the University of South Carolina School of Law. Cannon and his family returned to Charleston where he practiced law for a period serving as a Charleston County Deputy County Attorney.  In March 1984, Cannon was appointed Chief of the North Charleston Police Department where he served until August 1987.  He worked a short time as a Captain for the Charleston City Police Department but resigned that position in October, 1987 to run for Sheriff of Charleston County.

Sheriff Cannon is a unique individual in that he is a trained attorney, a military leader and veteran law enforcement professional.  His knowledge and experiences have given him valuable insight into the many threats we face today, and he is often called on for advice and counsel.

Sheriff Cannon is credited with successfully merging the Charleston County Police Department and the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office in January of 1991.  He is an innovative and dedicated sheriff who uses his considerable talents and outstanding professional skills to benefit the citizens of Charleston County.  He is known to be an excellent administrator who has molded the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office into one of the premier law enforcement agencies in the country. Known for speaking his mind, Sheriff Al Cannon has a well deserved reputation for honesty and integrity.


  • Bachelor of Science Degree – College of Charleston (1973)
  • Masters Degree in Criminal Justice – University of South Carolina (1977)
  • Juris Doctor – University of South Carolina (1981)
  • Graduate FBI National Academy (1985)
  • FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development School
  • Police Chief – North Charleston Police Department (1984-1987)
  • Adjunct Professor – Charleston Southern University (1986)
  • Served as Russian Translator in the U.S. Air Force (1967-1971)
  • Colonel/Special Agent – United States Air Force Reserves (1978-2006)
  • Graduate -USAF Air War College (Correspondence)
  • Graduate- Center for Homeland Defense and Security, the Naval Post Graduate       School Executive Leaders Program  (2010)
  • Top Secret Security Clearance

Organizations/Club Affiliations

  • Air Force Association-Life Member
  • South Carolina Chamber of Commerce – Honorary Board Member
  • Charleston County Bar, South Carolina Bar and American Bar Association
  • United States Supreme Court Bar
  • South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association
  • National Sheriffs’ Association
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)- Life Member
  • FBI National Academy Associates
  • Leadership South Carolina
  • Diversity Leadership Academy – Furman University
  • National Rifle Association (NRA)-Life Member
  • FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association
  • Military Order of The World Wars
  • Military Officers Association of America (MOAA)
  • Masons
  • National Sojourners
  • VFW- Life Member
  • American Correctional Association
  • American Jail Association


  • 1977 – U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Outstanding Young Men of America”
  • 1982 – AFOSI District 21 “Outstanding Reserve Officer of the Year”
  • 1992 – AFOSI “Reserve Officer of the Year”
  • 1998 – Strom Thurmond Award of Excellence in Law Enforcement
  • 1999 – Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA) Initial                      accreditation.
  • 2001 – Executive of the Year for International Association of Administrative                         Professionals (IAAP)
  • 2003 – Selected South Carolina “Sheriff of the Year”
  • 2004 – President of the S.C. Sheriff’s Association
  • 2004 – U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Public Service Award
  • 2004, 2007, 2010 - CALEA Re-accreditation
  • 2013 – American Correctional Association (ACA)Initial Detention Center                          accreditation
  • 2013 – The Citadel Republican Society Nathan Hale Patriot Award

See Sheriff's Office for more information about this elected office.


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