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Singing from the Heart | Gabby Stinson

by Linda Searles March 01, 2021

A while back, Gabby Stinson reached out to us through social media with a link to her music video. Her beautiful singing voice was enough to stir our curiosity and we wanted to find out what motivated this deputy from Texas to make such a moving video. After several conversations we realized, not only is she a talented singer but her life story was something we wanted to share with our audience. We discovered the video actually evolved from a nightmare that woke her dad in the middle of the night. This drove him to call her the very next morning and enthusiastically pitching his ideas to her. He said he had already picked the perfect song for her to record and it was called, Somebody’s Prayin,’ by Rickie Skaggs. This song became their tribute to Backing the Blue and the message they wanted to convey.  

Gabby and her dad were tired of seeing law enforcement viewed in a negative light and hoped that through the video it would help change people's perceptions of cops everywhere. As their conversations began to unfold she realized her dad wanted her to also play the role of the main character in the video. Production was going to start right away, according to her father, which meant Gabby needed to learn a new song and gear up to play her part in the video. She admitted she felt scared and underprepared, considering the expectations of her dad to start immediately. He was confident that she could do it and believed in the message so strong that he didn’t want to waste any time. 

The video, Somebody’s Prayin’ was produced by the Center for Creative Media and in February 2019 it was released to the public. The positive response from social media was overwhelming. The communities and the law enforcement families across our nation rallied around the message of support for law enforcement. Both Gabby and her dad felt their hard work and efforts paid off and they felt so proud to be a part of this amazing project. It was hard for Gabby to believe that she could make such an impact on so many people and that she was helping shape the perceptions of people through her music.

Gabby was born in Pearl, Mississippi, and when she was around 6 months old, her family moved back to Glen Rose, Texas. It meant starting a new chapter for the family and a fresh new start. Glen Rose was a place where they felt safe and secure and where they once found unity. To Gabby’s parents, they knew it would be a blessing to have their children grow up in this same community. They wanted to go back to their roots where they could share their sadness and happiness with many of their extended family who still lived in Glen Rose. 

When she was only three years old, her parents divorced. And, like many families facing a divorce, it brought with it some challenges of its own. For the girls, it meant they would be moving to a 92-acre farm. This wasn’t a bad change for Gabby and her older sister Ayron. They were very close, and nothing brought them more joy than living in the countryside and running freely through wide-open spaces. Gabby describes her older sister, Ayron, as a beautiful spirit who’s had to face a few too many obstacles. Ayron has always managed to see the best in everyone she meets- almost to a fault, according to Gabby, but she is proud of her older sister and has witnessed her strength of character many times as she’s turned her life around for good more than once. The girls were fortunate, they had each other and two very loving parents. Since her parents shared custody, that meant going back and forth between two homes. Divorce can be difficult for kids to handle, but Gabby felt her parents managed to keep their lives fairly structured. As they got older, visitations became more relaxed and the girls had more of a say about where they were going to spend their time and with what parent. Gabby will tell you that she grew up in a very supportive family. 

Both of Gabby’s parents remarried and that meant blending families, including children from previous relationships. She became very close to her step mother's youngest son, Jordan. They were almost the same age and she felt he was someone she could really trust. As they got older, Jordan enlisted in the Army and did two tours of duty while in service, one was in Afghanistan and the other in Iraq. As a service member in Afghanistan, Jordan sustained injuries to his knee and back but finished his tour of duty. After being honorably discharged from the military, Gabby noticed a change in him once he was home. His body was beaten down and tired after being in combat for the majority of the time. Jordan didn’t have a solid plan established for his new life, and coping meant spending time with the wrong crowd and using heroin. When the family discovered he was using, Jordan's drug abuse had gotten so bad that he was facing possible drug charges. Through the loving support of his family, his parents placed him in a rehabilitation center in Hamilton Texas to receive treatment. It turned his life around. After several years of drug treatment and sobriety, Jordan enrolled in college and is currently studying to become a drug counselor. His plans are to help others who are facing similar problems that he has faced. 

Shortly after graduating from high school, Gabby didn’t really know what she wanted to do for work nor did she have a clear direction for her career goals. At this same time, her grandfather’s health started worsening and eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Her grandmother couldn’t meet his growing needs and placed him in a nursing home. Every time Gabby went to visit her grandfather she had this gnawing feeling inside telling her she could provide better care than what he was getting at the time. She was very close to her grandparents and knew somehow she wanted to help them. She decided the best way to help them was to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). After she completed her certification she started working in the nursing home where her grandfather was residing and took care of him until he passed away. She looks back at that time with fond memories knowing that her “Pops” received the best care possible from her loving hands. 

As the old saying goes, “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree,” could best describe the similarities Gabby shares with her other grandfather, she calls Grampo. He served as a Sheriff in New Mexico before she was born. She remembers the stories about him being a combat veteran and serving his country but didn’t hear the stories about him serving as a Sheriff until she got older. Little did she know, she would be serving her community as a deputy just like Grampo did many years ago. Grampo still lives in the community he once served as a Sheriff and the people of the town still speak very highly of him. Gabby will tell you her Grampo is the real deal. She learned so much from him and is so proud of the fact that while he served as Sheriff his goals were to always do his best for the people of the town, and used his position to help make it a better place to live.    

She felt blessed to come from good stock, her grandparents and parents were people she was proud of. Her mother who was the stricter parent kept her and her sister on track just like the generation before her. Both her parents were involved in the church and really taught Gabby about values and about loving God. She can still remember people coming over to the house visiting and having supper most every Sunday. Her mom, who loved to cook, also loved people just as much. Her mother has what Gabby calls a “servant’s heart” and because of it, was able to draw a lot of strength from her mom. Her mother’s favorite saying that she quoted over and over again to her daughters was, “it always works out,” and this has become Gabby’s mantra and way of thinking for her own life challenges. When the chips were down, Gabby knew she could always turn to her mom for help. 

Gabby was a single parent raising her daughter Macie and still thinking she wanted to become a nurse. Becoming a nurse meant going back to school and making more money, but she knew if she was going to pursue this dream she would need help. Her mom was in transition and so was Gabby- the perfect storm. They decided to pull their resources together and established a good living situation for both of them. They agreed to live together for 6 months, her mom would help care for Gabby’s only daughter at the time while she was working. Shortly after moving in, Gabby found out she was pregnant with her second daughter, Mollie. What started as a temporary living situation actually lasted for 7 years. During that time Gabby was encouraged by a family friend, to consider a position that was available at the jail in Ector County. The job paid well and offered benefits, both of which she needed, and even though she was nervous about taking the job she decided to apply anyway. Her prayers were answered when they hired her on the spot. She started working on the floor and surprisingly really enjoyed working in the jail. Her job consisted of serving the inmates meals, administering medications, and instilling values, rules, and keeping the peace. What she liked most about the job was being surrounded by people and listening to the inmates' stories.  

Gabby discovered a lot about the inmates and she was intrigued by their stories. She wanted to know how they got to this place and she wanted to help them if she could. What she learned was that many of them were really good people who happened to make some really bad choices. The job allowed her to increase her skill set by having opportunities to work in the booking department and as the acting supervisor. She really loved the work, it wasn’t just a job to her but she felt it was a calling. She felt needed and respected by the people she worked with, admiring their dedication to police work. This helped her to make the decision to enroll in the police academy and to change her career path from nursing to becoming a police officer. 

Now a mother of two young girls, she knew that going to the police academy was going to be tough. The academy is a 21 week-long program that demands a lot of time. Academics are very important in the police academy. Recruits usually take at least one test a week while in the training, and there are strict rules in place about getting passing scores. She developed effective study habits, which were essential for academic success. Besides the academic requirements, as a recruit, she had to be proficient in several areas considered to be "high liabilities." These subjects included firearms, defensive tactics, first aid, and vehicle operations. The high liability courses involved long and grueling days. She completed the course and graduated top of her class, passing most of her tests with a 94% or higher. This placed her at greater advantage, first because of her academic excellence, secondly because she is a female. Academy life was both strenuous and exhausting, but it also had fun moments as well for Gabby. She will tell you, those who could tough it out in the academy came out smarter and stronger for their efforts.  

The desire to leave Ector County grew stronger in Gabby, feeling it was time to leave a life where working in the jail no longer met her growing needs. After leaving she was hired to work for the city of Andrews Police Department. One of the requirements of the job was to cross-train as a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The other requirement was not as simple, she had to live in Andrews county in the event she was called out on an EMS call. Her house was located in Odessa, which meant she would have to move. Passing the EMS state certification requirements came easy for her, but selling a house was much more complicated. 

While working for Andrews, she was recognized as the first female commissioned deputy hired to work at the sheriff’s office. It was such a sensation in her town that it became newsworthy. It was another proud moment for her. This was a happy time because of all the positive changes that were happening. But with those changes, there were also changes that brought her some heartache. Her marriage was ending and she was selling her beloved home. Feeling overwhelmed, she decided to take a much-needed trip to where she grew up, Glen Rose, the place she treasures most and where many of her family and friends still reside. During her visit, she couldn’t stop thinking about how nice it would be to live there again. It was two long years since her last visit and she had forgotten how much she loved it there. The visit helped her make the decision to move back to her hometown. Making a decision like this also meant she would have to leave Andrew’s Police Department.

 

Gabby felt really bad about her decision. Unfulfilled promises were just not her style. But, she knew she had to follow her heart, she moved forward with her decision and left Andrew’s after only working for them for 7 months.  She was afraid to be labeled a gypsy cop, this is when cops frequently transfer between police departments. That wasn’t her character nor the label she wanted to carry with her into her new position. After working in west Texas for 7 years, she packed up her family and all her belongings to start a new life in Glen Rose. She was, jobless, unmarried, without a home and now a mother of 2 moving into her dad’s home. She stayed with them on the farm until she found a job. 

When life becomes difficult, Gabby saw it as an opportunity to become tougher. Moving meant taking some risk but taking the risk was part of the mental toughness Gabby developed over the years. Trusting the process, she got back on her feet and within a short period of time, began working for Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office. When she started with the sheriff’s office they placed her in the transportation division, transferring inmates from jail to jail. As a female officer, she was met with some challenges. She was not always seen as an authority figure but being female also had its perks. In some cases, people felt more comfortable interacting with her than they did with her male counterparts. As a patrol deputy, she took a vow to provide public safety and to maintain order in her community. Promoting good community relations has been the key to her success. The job has taught her patience and to be a good communicator. More importantly, learning good social interaction skills proved to be valuable when dealing with people under stressful situations. On any given day you will find her cracking jokes and keeping it light during traffic stops. At this time she met her ex-husband, who was working in the booking department at the sheriff’s office. The first time they interacted was during a physical altercation he was having with an inmate. She was nearby and heard the struggles. When she realized there was an officer needing help, she assisted. They were married for 5 years and had a son together. They co-parent their children and have remained good friends.

Currently, Gabby is assigned to the South Patrol Division. She works very hard at maintaining order in Tarrant county, and many times sees things that she wishes she never had to see. Dealing with victims of crime and families of lost loved ones is difficult and painful, but it’s the nature of the job. She’s proud to be a public servant, and she understands that public service is largely about sacrifice. When she took the job, she knew she was joining one of the most challenging careers. A career that depends on her to protect and serve the community. The thing that keeps her motivated is helping people, especially kids. She feels very fortunate to have a job where she can help so many people and to work with Sheriff like Bill E. Waybourn who, to her, is a wonderful man to work for. 

There are many facets to Gabby’s personality that she doesn't use in her everyday life. One of them is the ability to sing. When she first started singing publicly she was only 4 years old. She remembers going with her dad to the local nursing homes singing Christmas carols and singing in the church choir. By the age of 10, she started singing in honky-tonks and belting out country music and rock tunes to large crowds. She believes her singing abilities came from her dad who was a singer and musician in numerous bands over the years. Several years ago, her dad started a nonprofit called, Father’s House Educational Foundation. About 6 to 9 months out of the year he lives in Israel where he is sponsoring orphanages and going on archaeological digs. Most of his time is spent spreading the gospel and connecting spiritually with the people of Israel. Gabby says her dad is such an inspiration to her and music has never left his soul. More recently, she was elected by the residents of her district for city council and sworn in office as the City Alderwoman Place 4 on May 15th. She is excited about representing the people of her community and doing what’s in the residents’ best interest. 

If you had a chance to sit down and talk to Gabby, she would tell you she likes to keep her life in balance and her children are the stabilizers. She likes to stay light-hearted, but when it comes to parenting, she’s pretty strict. She believes in teaching them to love but she believes in teaching them to be strong, especially in a world where things are not always fair. Her daughters are now 10 and 12 and very smart and talented young ladies. The baby of the family, her sweet son Jordan, is now 3 years old and has all of them wrapped around his little finger. He loves swimming and fishing. And, he would tell you that he’s scared of worms and snakes. But, without missing a beat, Gabby would reassure him that he has nothing to worry about, his mama will always be there to protect him.





Linda Searles
Linda Searles

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