COVINGTON - Newton County Sheriff-Elect Ezell Brown said lasting bonds and friendships were formed during the monthlong intensive training sessions for 45 new Georgia sheriffs and he is eager to begin putting into practice what he learned.
"Going to the sheriff's office school allowed me to meet 44 other sheriffs and we established a brotherhood. I now see the closeness of the sheriffs from all of the 159 counties. I see the importance of it. It's like a fraternity of brothers together," Brown said.
The class was composed of 160 hours of classroom instruction, which ran the gamut of information Brown and his peers will likely need to know during their terms of office, including the mandate of the sheriff's office, working with other government departments, ethics, finance, the civil process and the history of the sheriff's office.
Brown described the training as "very intense," and pointed out that the class was made up of nearly a third of the sheriffs who are new to the office.
He said one of the things he found interesting was why the sheriff's office is no longer called the sheriff's department.
He explained that a department is a major division of the executive branch of government, but the office is more in line with the concept of an organization that is "a right and has a corresponding duty to exercise public trust. The office belongs to the people, those who elected you. They entrust you to carry out duties and responsibilities of the sheriff."
Also while participating in the training, Brown accepted a certificate on behalf of the Newton County Sheriff's Office commending them for their participation in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's 2008 Toys for Tots campaign.
Brown said he is now in the process of developing his command staff.
"We are making changes in the departments command-wise. We are close to finalizing that. We have yet to announce our chief deputy, which is forthcoming. I expect within a week or so, we will announce our chief deputy," he said. "We are putting our officers in areas where I feel we can maximize and get 100 percent from our individual officers. We're doing some changes, but the changes we are doing is for the betterment of the department as well as the community."
Brown, who will take office Thursday, has already been sworn in by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, but will take his oath of office along with other newly-elected Newton County officials from Judge Henry Baker at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Historic Courthouse.
"As I've always said before, we'd like any and all who'd like to witness the swearing-in ceremony (to attend). It's a public ceremony. I plan to continue on being part of the community, and I want to avail myself to the community. This would be a good beginning for the community to be there."
Barbara Knowles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.