There are several positions that are being contested in the upcoming election cycle but none may be as important as the sheriff race! The Hall County Sheriff Department performs four major functions; jail, court services, patrol and investigations.
The jail is self explanatory; court services includes security, prisoner appearances, serving civil papers and sheriff sales. Patrol, the most common point of contact for civilians, encompasses traffic safety, robbery, gangs, SWAT and dive teams. Investigation does the detective work of solving rape, robbery and homicide cases.
The size of the sheriff department is really surprising. There are more than 450 employees, a jail population of 1,100 and a budget in excess of $30,000,000. Only education has a bigger impact on our property taxes than the sheriff department.
We are impacted daily through the sheriff department by safe roads, our quality of life (are we safe and secure), our taxes and basic fairness. Is there one set of rules for all and is there racial harmony in the community?
There is much more to being a good sheriff than just riding in a patrol car. You need training such as the Chiefs of Police Leadership Academy, open only to proven leaders in law enforcement. Training in crime scene forensics, and management experience specifically dealing with law enforcement supervisory level officers. They also need real knowledge and experience involving jail operations, CSI techniques and special operations.
We need someone with demonstrated good management experience. We don’t need good officers leaving the department due to arbitrary management decisions that cause us to lose the investment we have in hiring and training each officer. We have over $50,000 invested in each new officer before they are allowed to function on their own. We need leadership that can motivate and create a sense of fairness among all the officers and staff.
We need a sheriff that works cooperatively with other agencies such as the Gainesville Police, local fire and EMS personnel and state (state patrol and GBI) and federal agencies (INS and FBI).
In summery, we are a nation of laws, laws that must be enforced fairly and efficiently. Our sheriff leads the “thin blue line” that stands between us and chaos. Look carefully at the candidates and make a wise choice.