CUMMING -- Though newly sworn-in Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman and his incoming command staff have numerous goals for the agency, one in particular underscores them all: serving the residents of Forsyth County.
Freeman presented his new command staff after he took his oath Wednesday afternoon, highlighting Deputy Chief Grady Sanford Jr., Maj. Tom Patton, who will head the Support Services Division, Maj. Joe Perkins, who will run the Sheriff’s Services Division, and Capt. W.C. Barrett, who will oversee the Major Crimes Unit.
First Lt. Ben Finely will serve as executive officer in the Law Enforcement Division, 1st Lt. Eric Silveus will run the school resource officer, or SRO, program, and Andy Kalin, who currently works as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, will serve as the day-to-day supervisor of the Major Crimes Unit.
The majority of the men live in the county, and many have had past experience working for the sheriff’s office.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to serve the people of Forsyth County,” Deputy Chief Sanford said. “It takes all of us working together to reach our goals and be successful, not just one person, and we’re here with the vision the sheriff has given all of us to make the people’s lives of Forsyth County better.”
With nearly 33 years of law enforcement experience, Sanford most recently hails from the Georgia State Patrol, where he served as captain.
He is also president of the Georgia chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates.
“This is a great opportunity for me to take what I’ve learned over the years and come to a full-service sheriff’s department,” he said.
Patton, Freeman said, “brings unique business acumen, having worked in the corporate world, all the way to vice president of Wachovia Bank.”
“Clearly, [the sheriff’s office] is not an island,” Patton said. “We will work with the rest of the county and I have a perspective that will help build bridges there.”
SROs build bridges daily, too, with both community leaders and county residents, and Perkins and Silveus said they intend to continue doing so.
“These guys in this room mean what they say and I really think the citizens of Forsyth County are going to benefit from the wisdom that is here,” Perkins said. “It’s not going to be about egos. It’s not going to be about us making us look good. It’s going to be about protecting the county and serving the citizens of this county and serving the deputies who work to the sheriff’s office.”
Though Perkins and Silveus have yet to meet with the Forsyth County Board of Education, Freeman previously said he plans to add additional SROs to county schools, specifically in the elementary and middle schools.
Silveus previously ran the SRO program for the school district.
“Our main objective is to improve school safety, but one of our primary focuses is to bridge the gap between adolescents and law enforcement,” he said. “It’s not just for the law enforcement side or the children’s side, but to be an advocate for the issues these children are going through and assist the parents and the school administrators and teachers to provide the best atmosphere they can on a school campus.”
Barrett said he, too, wants to work with the SROs.
“I want to work with SROs to teach the kids — education about narcotics is what I’m talking about.” he said. “My goal is to get [Forsyth County] from being No. 3 on the list for heroin overdoses in the state to way down on that list.
“I want the deputies to realize they serve the citizens of this county, and we need the citizen’s help to root out the people bringing in the heroin and methamphetamines.”
Freeman said he is proud of his command staff.
“I have full confidence in who these people are and am blessed they have the confidence in me to be able to come here and work with our county and try to keep our county safe,” he said. “That is our running mantra: the best way for the citizens of the county and the men and women who work here is the Forsyth County way.”