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Columbia County lawman honored as Ga. Sheriff of the Year

From left: Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Terry Norris,...
From left: Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia Sheriffs’ Association Executive Director Terry Norris, Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle, Jones County Sheriff Butch Reese, Georgia Sheriffs’ Association President and Turner County Sheriff Andy Hester.(WRDW)
Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 11:48 AM EDT
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APPLING, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle was recently recognized by the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association as the 2021 Sheriff of the Year.

The honor came during a ceremony hosted by Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece to salute the 159 sheriffs of Georgia.

Whittle has been sheriff since 1995, having been re-elected six times.

As an achievement, his office cited a continuous reduction in crime in one of the fast-growing counties of the state. In fact, the number of reported crimes in 2020 was the lowest since he took office, his agency said.

In a statement, his office said he’s strived to provide the highest level of law enforcement services, improve the quality of life and reduce crime since his first day in office.

One of his goals has been to deliver services in the highest professional manner possible, he says. To that end, his agency utilizes community policing – keeping the public involved and maintaining open communication to help keep criminals off the streets.

Another key to the agency’s success has been accreditation, he says.

The agency in 1996 became the first sheriff’s office in Georgia accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, the premier international accrediting body for law enforcement.

Since then, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has achieved reaccreditation with honors and also achieved Gold Standard Accreditation.

Whittle has been awarded the Triple Crown by the National Sheriffs’ Association for being simultaneously accredited by CALEA, the American Correctional Association’s Commission on Accreditation for Corrections and the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare.

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Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson
Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson(WRDW)

ANOTHER STATEWIDE HONOR: Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson received the Pillars of Excellence award from Georgia City County Managers Association during its annual conference Oct. 26. The Georgia City-County Management Association’s Pillars of Excellence Award recognizes those who: champion local government management; demonstrate a commitment to personal development; mentors, coaches and counsels peers; sustains innovation; and exemplifies the tenets of the ICMA Code of Ethics. This is bestowed upon an extraordinary few who demonstrate the ability to give so much to their families, their employees, their elected officials and their communities. In a unanimous decision, the GCCMA Nominating Committee selected Johnson.

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