Sheriff Jeff Wigington recently announced he is running for his fifth term as the top public safety head of Rockdale County.
Wigington, a lifelong resident of Rockdale County, began his public safety career with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office 35 years ago, serving as a deputy for 19 years before first being elected as Sheriff in 1996.
"It’s my goal to keep Rockdale safe," Wigington said. "My family has grown up here. We have a great community and I want to keep it that way."
Among the efforts to maintain that sense of safety is to have patrol cars visibly monitoring neighborhoods and establishing precincts, such as the current revamping of the Southside Precinct, Wigington said. The new Southside Precinct will open in a more visible building on Ga. Highway 20 purchased with SPLOST funding and will be staffed and open to the public about 12-16 hours a day.
Other efforts include establishing the Community Oriented Policing Unit to interact with the community, providing Student Resource Officers in schools, and establishing programs in schools to address decision making and gang resistance.
He said the important thing is to "to stay proactive. Aggressively pursue criminals."
"We want criminals and people that intend to do wrong things to go somewhere else and not here," he said.
He pointed out arrests are made in many cases, often during or shortly after the crime occurs.
"We’re in better shape than a lot of our surrounding counties."
But some of the biggest challenges facing the RCSO come from the economy, he said.
"County budgets are so tight right now. Our goal is to keep providing the best law enforcement we can despite the budget shortfalls and economic problems the county and country face."
Another challenge, he said, is "Getting adequate pay for our employees so we’re not a training ground; that we keep experienced officers and they don’t go somewhere else."
As part of being fiscally responsible, he said, other funding sources, such as forfeited assets and grant funding, is used for the purchase of vehicles and equipment.
During his time as Sheriff, Wigington has seen the department grow from about 150 personnel to about 300 personnel, the jail expand from a capacity of about 172 to 700, add a women's jail annex, expand the administration building, and technology change significantly.
Other achievements include the RCSO's certification under the state Law Enforcement Certification Program since 2002.
Wigington recieved his Bachelor's in criminal justice and public administration from Brenau University and a Master's in public administration from Columbus State University. He and his wife Beth have three sons and attend Union United Methodist Church.
Wigington will hold a campaign fundraiser breakfast on March 15, 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. at Glenn’s BBQ in Conyers.
For more information, go to www.jeffwigington.com