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Hall sheriff's reserve unit recertifies for support duty
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Hall County Sheriff’s Office reserve unit deputies Marcus Walker and Bartley Wilson recertify in firearms Saturday at the training center. - photo by EMMA WITMAN

Dr. Mike Hollifield responds to intense situations as a paid professional, working as a physician in Northeast Georgia Medical Center’s emergency room.

He also lends his expertise to the community free of charge in a different capacity: he’s a sergeant in the Hall County Sheriff’s Office reserve unit.

“It’s a way to give back and be actively involved in the community,” Hollifield said, also noting the two major pluses for the Sheriff’s Office. “It also helps the sheriff’s office with manpower and saves the county money.”

The unit, started in 2001, is made up of 30 former law enforcement officers like Hollifield, who served in the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years before attending the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Capt. Harry Chapman, an instructor in criminal justice at Lanier Technical College, commands the group of men and women, which lends their certified officers for special events, emergencies and even routine patrol.

“Water is a big part of what we do, and we’ll actually be out at Lake Lanier later today,” Chapman said. Helping supplement lake patrol in the summer months is a typical function of the reserves.

Marcus Walker, a lieutenant at the Hall County Correctional Institute, joined the reserves right around when he left the Sheriff’s Office a year and a half ago. Being in the reserves helps him stay involved in aspects of criminal justice and law enforcement that aren’t as much a part of the work camp’s job description, he said.

“I used to spend so much time over here,” Walker said Saturday at the Allen Creek Road training center. “I just wanted to kind of continue with that.”

He and 19 other reserves were on hand for a group photo and firearm recertification, with the help of Training Director Lt. Mike Myers.

To hold their limited but active law enforcement roles, it’s a mandate that they stay certified by Georgia’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.

Many, like Walker, are still in the realm of criminal justice, including Solicitor’s Office investigators Nina Buffington and Bartley Wilson. Others, like Hollifield, have gone different routes since their law enforcement days, including jobs like working for media company Cox Enterprises or Gainesville surveillance business Electronic Sales Co.

They all have a dedication to helping the office in whatever way they can. You would never know they are a reserve and not a full-time deputy except for a patch on the uniform signifying their reserve position.

“They only difference between us and the other guys is we don’t get paid,” Chapman said.

Members of the community are likely to see reserve members for Memorial Day events; many also serve in the Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard.