Frequently Asked Questions
What is the role of the County Sheriff?
The Sheriff is a constitutionally mandated office in the State of Georgia with duties prescribed by the legislature. The Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer for the county and is responsible for investigating crimes and upholding state laws, enforcing judgments, and maintaining communications and the sharing of criminal intelligence with other law enforcement organizations. The Sheriff’s deputies have countywide jurisdiction, but in practice, concentrate their activities outside the city limits where municipal officers do not have jurisdiction to operate. The Sheriff is also responsible for security of the Courthouse. The Sheriff and his staff operate the jail and provide for the safety and well-being of inmates on a daily basis. The Sheriff and his staff ensure that quality jail standards are maintained in order to pass jail inspection. The Sheriff and his deputies provide law enforcement services in the unincorporated areas of the County and they liaison with other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to develop crime reduction strategies. Lastly, the Sheriff and his staff work with other stakeholders to ensure a good quality of life for all the citizens of Burke County.
Why are you running for the office of Sheriff?
I am running for the office of Sheriff because I have a vested interest in Burke County. It is home for me. It is where the majority of my family is. We attend church here and we enjoy the civility and quality of life that rural counties offer. I have spent 25 years of my life in various law enforcement positions, making a difference in the lives of those whom I served. We are excited about the growth and development of our hometown. Law enforcement contributes greatly to social and economic growth in that providing safe schools where students can learn leads to student achievement and better graduation rates. When students graduate, they become college and career ready and are able to join the workforce and become productive citizens. When crime is reduced and citizens feel safe, they will move about more freely and enjoy the amenities and festivities the town has to offer. When officers are given the tools they need to work with, when they feel respected and appreciated, and they are fairly paid, they will work hard and proactively to reduce violent and property crimes. As a result of all of these initiatives, the economic outlook for our county is strengthened and companies are able to locate here, do well and pay livable wages. When families are able to sustain themselves based on these criteria, they will settle here and buy land and homes. I am the candidate who is able to continue to make these possibilities a reality. These are the reasons I am running for the office of Sheriff.
Why should you be the next Sheriff?
I should be the next Sheriff because I am the right person, at the right time and am running for the right reasons. I have worked tirelessly since graduating high school to prepare for this Office. I have served as a patrolman, investigator, instructor, lead instructor, sergeant, lieutenant, major, assistant director, director, and chief of police in various forms of law enforcement. I started with a peace officer certificate and worked through to a Master’s degree in education and have completed twelve hours towards a 2nd Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. I served as chief of police for the City of Waynesboro where we were able to restore order and trust both within and outside of the police department and with its citizens. The people of the town and those in the county witnessed a miraculous turnaround of the agency in a very short period of time. I have experience dealing with a very large school district and I understand the importance of working with our youth to mentor them. By doing so, we curb gang violence and violent crime. I should be the next Sheriff because I understand Service. If I am your next Sheriff, we will continue working together to make a tangible difference in the lives of our fellow citizens and always striving to make our community a safer place to live.
What makes you the most qualified to be the next Sheriff?
I am the most qualified candidate to be the next Sheriff because I have the professional knowledge, training, experience, competence and character to successfully lead the men and women of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office into the future. I have spent 25 years of my life, prideful and joyfully serving well and making a positive difference in the lives of others in the Augusta circuit (which includes Burke, Richmond and Columbia Counties).
What are your goals for the department?
We are blessed to have an outstanding Sheriff’s Office in Burke County, led by Gregory T. Coursey, whom serves with honor and distinction and has done so for 36 years. As law enforcement in the 21st Century changes, the sheriff’s office will face new challenges, new changes, new technology and an increased demand for accountability and transparency. My vision for the Burke County Sheriff’s Office is to employ the latest and most cost-effective methods in delivering quality service to the citizens of Burke County while maintaining positive relationships with those we serve. I will keep public safety a priority, continue building community relationships and continue embracing education and expertise as I serve.
My goal is to provide coaching and mentoring to the deputies I work with by training them to the highest standard and ensuring our practices and programs support and reinforce the concepts and practices of our profession.
What do you want your legacy to be when you retire?
When I retire, I want my legacy to be similar to that of the current Sheriff Gregory T. Coursey. I want my legacy to be that I served with honor and distinction, that I had care and compassion for those I served, and that I treated people fairly, justly and competently.
I want to know that I improved the quality of life of the citizens of Burke County by providing safer schools, streets and neighborhoods and that the citizens felt our Sheriff’s Office was to be emulated by all in the state.
What are the most pressing issues facing the Sheriff’s Office and how will you deal with them?
The most pressing issues facing most governmental agencies now and going forward are increased governmental laws and regulations and less funding of the same.
Current events in law enforcement will continue to demand greater training and accountability, which can be taxing on a small rural law enforcement entity. Grant funding may be a source of revenue to combat this problem.
Also, research suggests many law enforcement agencies are struggling with ways to help the mentally ill in county jail facilities and it is a severe strain on the budget. We will look to other social service agencies and faith-based organizations to help in dealing with these problems.
As we work towards state certification and national accreditation, the maintenance of professional standards for deputies and other staff coupled with ensuring the safety of the citizenry to include inmate population, will prove challenging. We must plan accordingly and set high standards and expectations to minimize the liability associated with bad practices and policy.
Lastly, from a community perspective, drugs and gangs are a problem nationwide. Many of the thefts and burglaries are the result of chemical dependency. We must continue investing in and mentoring to our youth. We must look to other resources outside of the Sheriff’s Office to help combat these problems.