I look forward to the challenges 2010 will bring

Wow what a year! I cannot believe 2009 has come and gone.

It seems only yesterday that I was being sworn into office as sheriff of Dougherty County. My transition into office seemed effortless, due in part to our former Sheriff Jamil Saba and to the awesome employees of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office. I am very blessed to have the opportunity to work with some of most skilled and dedicated employees in law enforcement.

Under Georgia law, the sheriff is specifically tasked to:

1. maintain peace

2. protect life

3. protect property

4. provide services to the community.

Beyond these four specific duties, there are also several duties required as a condition of the sheriff's oath of office, such as:

1. the prevention, detection and investigation of criminal activity

2. the apprehension and confinement of offenders and the recovery of property

3. the expeditious movement and control of vehicular traffic and the investigation of traffic accidents

4. the control of crowds at public events

5. the rendering of services and the protection of property during civil emergencies and natural disasters

6. the responsibility for providing various noncrime-related services to the community, such as drug prevention education and training, the fingerprinting of children, etc.

As an officer of the court, the sheriff also has several duties, such as providing bailiffs to the superior, state and probate courts as needed and serving civil papers, such as summons and subpoenas, within the county.

The sheriff also serves and executes criminal warrants and is responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the prisoners in the jail. This responsibility causes the Sheriff's Office to transport inmates to doctor's offices, mental health centers, the crisis center and other jails and prisons throughout the state.

2009 was a very busy year for the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office. My dedicated and hard-working staff has performed beyond my expectations -- even with the economic and budgetary challenges we faced. During calendar year 2009, my staff served more than 5,000 criminal warrants, served more than 32,000 civil papers, assisted more than 350 motorists, cleared nearly 400 criminal investigations, worked more than 1,500 Automated Fingerprint Identification System cases, examined nearly 6,500 pieces of evidence, examined more than 12,000 latent fingerprints, processed more than 18,000 inmates into and out of the jail, conducted nearly 1,000 hours of training, trained 75 new detention officers, provided more than 4,000 hours of dedicated service to the youth of our community, provided courtroom security for all court functions both at the courthouse as well as the jail, secured the courthouse and carried on many daily functions too numerous to mention here. I can't thank them enough for what they have done.

I am told that 2010 will be another challenging year, given the economic condition that our great state faces. But the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office is up to the task. Along with my staff, I am looking forward to the challenges that 2010 will bring.

Sheriff Sproul is a longtime resident of Dougherty County. He is a graduate of Albany High School, Darton College, and LaGrange College of Albany. Sheriff Sproul has been employed with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office for 27 years and can be reached at (229) 430-6508.