Several newly elected, re-elected or appointed law enforcement officers took their oath of office prior to the New Year.
Newly elected Liberty County Sheriff, William Bowman was sworn in the morning of Dec. 30, in front of the Liberty County Justice Center in Hinesville before a crowd of well-wishers.
Bowman, retired military and former Georgia State Patrol officer ran for the position against incumbent Sheriff Steve Sikes in the June 2020, General Election. Both men ran in this year’s primary race on the democratic ticket.
Bowman had lost to Sikes in the 2016 General Election in a highly contested race. Bowman challenged the 2016 results in court citing voting irregularities. However, the case was dismissed in court.
Bowman officially took over the department at one minute after midnight Jan 1, 2021.
He was sworn in early so that he can swear in his deputies as soon as he started his first day on the job.
“What a great day,” Bowman said after being sworn in. “It was your hard work that got me here so I thank you.”
Bowman said he worked hard the past four years in preparation of his second run against Sikes. He said he was thankful for the community’s support.
“I feel relieved,” he said. “I feel great. It is a wonderful time for myself and my family. The citizens of Liberty County wanted change and I know that I can make those changes for the better.”
Bowman said he hasn’t set specific goals yet because he needs to evaluate what the department currently has and what it might need. But he did say he would like to expand the department.
“Because the population has grown quite a bit,” he said.
Bowman said he wants his deputies to be community oriented and interact with the residents of the county as much as possible, not just during a traffic stop or investigation.
Bowman said being community-minded will assist in establishing better relationships and deter events, such as riots, that have happened in other states and cities during troubling times.
“Have them (his deputies) speak to the people,” He said adding there will be times of disagreements but by working together problems can be solved peacefully.
“I want them to know what is going on now wondering what is going on. I want to be pro-active in establishing what policies we have and what is expected of the officers and what is expected from the citizens. We all have our own biases but we all have to learn to work together. Communication is the key.”
He added he plans to work with Liberty County School System Superintendent Dr. Franklin Perry so they can bring in more school resource officers into the schools. He said he would like to be more involved in school events and activities.
“I must admit, I am very excited for my husband, my family and this community, Bowman’s wife Tanya said.
Also sworn in was Liberty County Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones and County Coroner Reginald Pierce.
In Long County Long County Sheriff Craig Nobles was sworn in by Superior Court Judge Paul Rose.
“I am truly humbled and honored to serve Long County in the capacity as Sheriff,” Nobles said. “I would also like to thank the men and women who protect and serve in our communities. The employees of the Long County Sheriff’s Office will continue to exercise their duties in a courteous and professional manner. I would also like to thank the constituents of Long County for their continued support in assisting the Sheriff’s Office to keep our community a safe place to live and raise our children.”
The City of Walthourville held a swearing in ceremony for their newly hired Interim Police Chief, Alfonza “Al” Hagan. The ceremony was at 5 p.m. Dec. 31, on the steps of City Hall.
Hagan is retired from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and was previously a chief investigator for the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office, and a patrolman with the Pembroke Police Department. He is owner of Central Georgia Polygraph. He was a candidate in the 2020 elections for the Bryan County Sheriff’s Office which was won by Mark Crowe.
Hagan said he was offered the position for six months while the City conducts a search for a new Police Chief. He said he plans to work hard and if the City Council decide he is the right fit, he would consider becoming the Chief full-time.
He said he wants to ensure he and the officers are good stewards of the City’s budget and also make sure the entire department understands their role in serving and protecting the residents of Walthourville.
Hagan, who is a former resident of Walthourville, is looking into programs for the welfare of the elderly and the kids of the City.
“This thing is bigger than myself,” Hagan said. “This is for the citizens of Walthourville and I’ll hold myself accountable to them at all times.”
Hagan is taking over from former Chief Jerry Blash, who said he was joining newly elected Liberty County Sheriff, William Bowman, at the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office this week.
Blash, of Waynesboro, was hired to take over the reins of the Walthourville police department in July 2019 from former Interim Police Chief Jerald Burgess who was asked to stay on during a problematic and tumultuous period in the department in 2018.
Burgess had served as Interim Police Chief since former Chief Bernie Quarterman was relieved of his duties in January 2018 after several back-and-forth accusations of impropriety between him, City Mayor Daisy Pray and her staff.
Recently Hinesville Police Chief Bill Kirkendall announced his retirement with the City’s Police Department, saying he has also accepted a position with the LCSO and Bowman.