Hundreds of people gathered at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville Friday afternoon to watch new Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch sworn into office by Gov. Nathan Deal and celebrate his new role.
Couch said it’s important to him that the office be seen by the public as the most professional it can be for all residents, and that he will strive daily to make Hall County a safe and family-friendly community.
In his speech, he said his life and career have been centered on professional community service, dedication to the truth, leading by example and community and financial accountability, and he plans to continue on that path as sheriff.
“Today marks the start of a new beginning,” Couch said. “In law enforcement, we should return to the fundamentals — good tough police work and getting criminals off the streets.”
Couch called for improving the department, including growing the office’s commitment to the community, upgrading technology and equipment, enhancing educational opportunities and continuing the commitment to accountability, recruiting and training.
“Gerald is no stranger to law enforcement, as most of you know,” Deal said. “His is a life of service, of dedication to public safety, and truly this is a culmination of that career, and one that I think all of us should be proud of him for doing and to have him now to be sworn in and serve as our new sheriff.”
The ceremony was full of pomp and circumstance as attendees filled the great church underneath large chandeliers. Guests included members of local and state law enforcement, judiciary, legislature, local officials and family members.
The ceremony started with a song played by a bagpipe player and the honor guard presentation.
Many in attendance said they knew Couch, who had already officially taken office, and praised him.
Avery Niles, Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice commissioner and a former sheriff’s office official, said he thought the new sheriff would good a great job and was proud of him.
Jim Walters, president of a local property management company, described him as “one of Hall County’s finest.”
Couch was elected in November, replacing Steve Cronic, who retired after serving three terms in the office.
Couch is a veteran law enforcement officer who joined the sheriff’s office in 1981 as a 19-year-old. He has served in a variety of positions, including jailer, patrol deputy, field training officer, investigator, sergeant and lieutenant. Prior to returning to Hall County, he was a major with the Gainesville Police Department.