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City marshal keeps police work in the family
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Debbie Jones is the city marshal for Gainesville. She says her job keeps her meeting new people while following her passion for enforcing the law. - photo by Tom Reed

Debbie Jones may not have been born into a family of law enforcement officers, but she certainly married into one.

Jones, Gainesville’s city marshal, has a husband who comes from a long line of law enforcement officers.

“I married into a whole law enforcement community,” Jones said.

And since law enforcement is a profession Jones has dreamed of since she was a teenager, it is only fitting that she chose the second family she did.

Jones got her start in law enforcement as a jailer for the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office. Her first taste of the profession was the summer before her senior year in high school when she interned at the Rome Police Department. She later worked for the Floyd County Sheriff’s

Office as a jailer and a road deputy.

“I was dreaming FBI, GBI, those kind of things,” Jones said.

But more than eight years after she came to Gainesville, Jones says her job as a city marshal has allowed her to be involved in a broader range of law enforcement. In this capacity, Jones has worked with the Department of Revenue, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals and the local police department.

“I have been able to be involved in law enforcement on several different levels,” Jones said. “...I’ve gotten to also be a part of the law enforcement community as well as be in the profession myself all these years.”

“Between the people you work with and the people you’re serving, it’s just a really good package deal,” Jones said.

Marshals like Jones have white-collar duties like collecting fees for alcoholic beverage licenses and inspecting taxicabs, but sometimes, the job gets dirty. When business owners complain that city residents are unloading their household garbage in commercial bins, Jones must do a little Dumpster diving to find out who is to blame for illegal dumping.

“It doesn’t always have the negative connotation that you’re thinking,” Jones said. “I’ve met a lot of good people in the business community, homeowners — serving this community has been very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed it.”

During any given day, Jones could be digging through Dumpsters, trying new recipes at home or moonlighting as her husband’s and dog’s personal hair stylist.

Born and raised in Rome, Jones moved east to Flowery Branch in 1999 when her husband, Mike, took a job as the police chief in Suwanee. In addition to being a wife and mother to her two sons, Jones is a mother to her Schnauzer, “Harley,” a dog named for her love of her Harley Davidson motorcycle.

“I wear a lot of hats when I’m not at work,” Jones said.

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