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Creator of Hall County’s first SWAT team remembered for molding officers in the old-school way
Bobby McMahan

Back when Sheriff Gerald Couch and Uniform Patrol Division Capt. Brad Rounds were young “slick-sleeve” officers, Lt. Bob McMahan molded the young men of the Hall County Sheriff’s Office with his old-school type of teaching.

“As a 19-year-old rookie coming out of the jail, he was my first lieutenant that I had to deal with and man, he was intimidating. He was big to begin with and had that deep raspy voice that was so distinctive to him,” Rounds said.

McMahan, 85, died Tuesday. Couch and the Rev. Mike Burgamy will officiate the funeral Friday, Dec. 7, at Memorial Park Funeral Home.

“Lt. Bob McMahan was a true leader. I remember his gruff surface demeanor, but it was just one of many tools he used as an excellent teacher and leader in our department,” Couch said in a statement. “The (lieutenant) was known as someone you could count on. Department leadership would frequently go to him with difficult tasks because they knew he’d tackle them with success. Perhaps his greatest achievement in the Sheriff’s Office was how he served his colleagues. He was a brother, father figure, adviser and counselor to many.”

After a couple of months of McMahan constantly chewing him out on the shift, Rounds went to the patrol office to talk to the lieutenant.

“He goes, ‘I know that you’ve got more in you than what you’re putting out, and I want to see it. I want to see you succeed out here.’ … He wanted to motivate me in his own way, but it was the old-school way. People wouldn’t understand that today.”

McMahan was an Army Ranger who received the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service Medal with a Silver Star and other accolades for his service. In 1973, he became a patrolman and was eventually promoted to lieutenant in 1984.

Couch requested McMahan’s badge number out of respect for the lieutenant.

“My condolences go out to his family and friends. I assure them that his legacy will live on in the men and women of our agency. His level of service to the community and country is a rarity,” Couch said in a statement.

McMahan was also responsible for creating the first SWAT team in the 1980s for the sheriff’s office, then just a handful of officers. McMahan initiated the team’s creation and got the training set up for the officers.

“He was a charger. Any chance he had to make the sheriff’s office better, make the patrol division better, he would,” Rounds said.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Dec. 7, in the Memorial Park Funeral Home chapel. Interment will follow in Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery.