Brown Focused on Safety, Employees As He Asks Voters for 4 More Years

The Sheriff shall keep and preserve the peace of the county.

Sheriff Noel Brown has been at the helm of the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office for nearly eight years now. There, he oversees the county arm of law enforcement, maintains the jail, and secures the courthouse.

TheGeorgiaVirtue recently interviewed Brown about his tenure thus far and what plans he has for the office should voters give him another term in office.

Employee-Centric Operations: “This is Family”

“I have the greatest job on earth,” Brown said. “I love the people here and this community, but without the people in this office, I couldn’t do this job at all.”

He prefaced by talking about the loss of institutional knowledge in the last two years, with the retirement of a 50-year veteran of the office, Mrs. Sheryl Hagan, and the passing of Mrs. Terry Harville. “They are missed greatly, every day,” he said.

Brown said he doesn’t see the office as having very much to do with himself and he tries to keep his employees at the forefront of all of the decisions he makes. A tireless advocate for his people is what Brown said he wants his staff to see him as. 

He plans to continue to expand the agency in each of the departments, like school resource officers and court services, due to the continue growth in the county as well.

And while the earthly resources and human capital keep the wheels turning, Brown said it’s prayer and reliance on faith that provide the ultimate protection. “No amount of armor is going to keep us as safe as faith, the good Lord, and His grace.”  

In terms of his own successes, he credited those being possible thanks to the support of his wife, Laura, his daughter, Dakota, and his two stepsons, Hunter and Cole. 

A Safe Community

In addition to the road deputies, jailers, and courthouse staff, Brown credited the special units like K9 deputies, the Crime Suppression Team, Investigations, those who handle drones in crises, and School Resource Officers for the great strides the office continues to make. 

Training is on a continuous cycle, particularly out at the range where two days a week includes training for deputies. The office has strived to provide classroom training opportunities one to two times per week as well, in addition to jail school and training for other agencies in the training building on the Sheriff’s Office campus.

He also touched on the idea of sanctuary cities – for both those who are here unlawfully and those who are in Bulloch County for soliciting, loitering, and trespassing. He said Bulloch County is no safe haven for either and his office will continue to ID the individuals and follow proper procedures to get them where they need to be.

Expanded Jail Facility

The moving target of ensuring the Bulloch County Jail has adequate bed space continues to be a priority for Brown.

The current jail can hold 466 inmates at 100% capacity, but the ideal capacity is somewhere in the range of 380-400 inmates to give consideration for gang affiliation separation needs, solitary issues, and medical conditions. While he and his staff have worked to keep inmates classified by severity of crime, among other things, there’s still a need for more space.

Brown says he’s been working with county commissioners on a 500-bed pod, which has been promised in the coming year. Among the longer-term goals is bringing back a contract for federal inmates with the hope of utilizing the money from that contract to pay for upkeep and maintenance of the jail as a whole. 

Over the last few years, however, the office has worked to implement enhanced jail cameras and improved cloud-based storage systems to retain necessary footage and data. 

2023 Tax Increase & the Office Budget

Brown didn’t shy away from his support of the tax increase approved by Bulloch County Commissioners in 2023. 

While he contended he, too, would have preferred that taxes tick up slightly over several years as opposed to one large jump in a single year, Brown told TGV that an increased level of funding is imperative for him to carry out the oath he promised to uphold. The office, he said, continues to need additional staff and those employees need training, equipment, and support.

“I’m not going to accept less than what my people need to do the job safely and always go home,” Brown said.

Brown said the office got what it needed in the FY 2024 budget, including the defined benefit retirement plan he advocated in favor of for years* which is he says improves benefits for employees and increases retention for the office. He’s hopeful the office will see the same pledges for resources by commissioners in FY 2025 as maintaining the same level of service as the county grows at a rapid pace is simply not feasible. Those budget talks begin this coming week. 

More recently, the office has transitioned from the WatchGuard system to Axon for better retainability and storage time and easier downloadability, all of which he says help keep the office moving forward with the times.

*Brown was not impacted by the county retirement plan changes as his retirement benefits come from the state. 

Georgia Sheriff’s Association

The networking of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association is something Brown says has amplified his service here in Bulloch County, giving him the opportunity to work with every sheriff in the state and magnify the voice for Bulloch on the state level.

Within the Georgia Sheriff’s Association (GS), Brown was recently elected in a contested race to serve as the organization’s Secretary-Treasurer. Since the elected officers rise up in rank each year, if voters re-elect Brown as their sheriff this year, he’s slated to serve as the Georgia Sheriff Association’s President in 2026.

Regional Task Force for Deputy-Involved Shootings, Use of Force Incidents

Other news Brown reported out of GSA – a task force for use of force investigations. Traditionally, though not required to do so, agencies request assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation so as to avoid the optics of a conflict of interest as it pertains to ‘investigating their own.’ 

For a number of reasons, to include accelerating the process of resolving the investigations and a heightened level of transparency, Brown said Bulloch County is working on a partnership with Bryan, Candler, Chatham, Effingham, Emanuel, and Jenkins counties to create the regional task force. The sheriff’s offices will share in the operation’s costs and resources, including equipment and training for investigators. 

In the event of an incident, investigators from various offices within the task force would be dispatched to the scene and would investigate the incident in the same manner as the GBI. Upon completion of the investigation, the case would be given to the district attorney’s office for further consideration, which the GBI has not always done before taking action or making arrests.

Brown said the public’s trust in the process is critical.

On His Opponent

As for his opponent, Brown said he wishes him nothing but the best in his campaign. “I have nothing but good things to say about him and I hope the race will stay focused on the topics,” Brown said.

This won’t be the first time the two have faced each other at the ballot box twice before, though this will be the first time the contest is decided between the two during the Republican primary. Brown said it doesn’t change anything, though, as his campaign will largely be focused on the deputies and staff within his office and the work they do each day.

A Desire to Continue to Serve

More than anything, Brown says he wants to keep the Sheriff’s Office on the right track – working to keep the community safe, supporting the people who do the work every day, and providing Bulloch County with a high level of quality law enforcement service.

The last day to register to vote in the primary election is April 22.
Early voting begins April 29.
Election Day is Tuesday, May 21.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

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