Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals
LEESBURG, Ga. — Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals kicked off 2012 Tuesday by formally announcing his plans to seek re-election to office.
“Having dedicated 21 years of service to Lee County, I am excited about the opportunity to continue my service,” Rachals said in a statement. “Being fully committed to my job, I announce my candidacy for re-election as sheriff.
“Being sheriff is a job, not just a position, and I enjoy the job and serving the citizens of Lee County.”
Rachals already has opposition for the office; former deputy David Cheshire announced his candidacy in November.
“We’ve accomplished a lot in this office in the three years I’ve been sheriff,” Rachals said during an interview at his office Tuesday afternoon. “I think our achievements will allow me to run on my record, because in the long run my primary goal has always been to do whatever will make this county better.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for going on 30 years now, and I’ve always made upholding the law as it applies to all citizens my top priority. It’s not always easy; you just can’t satisfy everyone. But I knew this wasn’t an easy job when I ran for the office.”
Rachals, who is celebrating his birthday today, offered a long list of accomplishments he said he and his team have achieved since he ousted longtime Sheriff Harold Breeden in 2008. Among the highlights:
- Recognition by the GBI for having the state’s best Internet Crimes Against Children program and the best new such agency in the state;
- A new highway safety program that has made the county’s roads measurably safer;
- Increase by more than 60 percent in neighborhood watch program participation;
- Implementation of a ladies firearm safety class;
- Improved working relationships with neighboring law enforcement agencies as well as state and federal agencies, including the DEA and NCIS;
- Improved the office’s website and Facebook pages and included an offender watch section on the Web;
- Saved the county money by using inmate labor for county work details;
- Streamlined the jail and made it more efficient and cost-effective;
- Used drug-seized funds for the purchase of needed equipment;
- Increased inmate medical coverage by almost $100,000;
- Established a Gang Task Force;
- Helped push for purchase of an enhanced countywide emergency communications system;
- Secured funding for security improvements at jail.
“I also think it’s critical that we’ve created opportunities for our personnel to receive valuable training,” Rachals said. “With updated technology and procedures now in place, you have to continue training to keep up with the times. Our folks utilize this training to become better at their jobs, and they pass on what they learn to their fellow officers.”
Rachals said he’s made himself as accessible as possible to the public, and he’s taken every opportunity to stand toe-to-toe with his frontline officers.
“There’s a lot that has to be done in this office, but I’m not going to ask any of my (officers) to do anything I wouldn’t do,” he said. “I get out on the road with them, work with our narcotics officers and our investigators. I know what it’s like because I’ve been there, and you appreciate it when the boss is willing to get out there on the front line with you.
“I’ve fought hard for some of the important things like the jail security system upgrade and the new communications system, but I’m certain our commissioners know I’m not fighting for wants, I’m fighting for needs. They’ve got a lot to deal with, too, with this tough economy, but I think they know that I’m only doing what I think will better this community.”
As for Cheshire, Rachals said he’s prepared for any negative claim the challenger might make.
“I’m not going to say anything negative against him,” the sheriff said. “I’ve heard that he’s saying some (negative) things about me, but the fact is I’m ready to face whatever he throws at me. I have nothing against him; I guess he feels he can do something different in this office. What that is, though, I don’t know.”
The sheriff’s race will be decided by Lee County voters on July 31.