Worth County Sheriff Freddie Tompkins will step down from office this year after deciding not to seek re-election to office. Tompkins has been Worth County's sheriff for 28 years.
SYLVESTER, Ga.— When you grow up in the south Worth County area known as “The Bloody Nine,” there is a good chance an interesting life lies ahead.
Worth County Sheriff Freddie Tompkins, who decided to not run for re-election after having the job since 1984, experienced that interesting life early on, and later traded it for a comfortable, happy one.
“I’ve been in law enforcement all my life,” Tompkins said. “I was drafted into the Army in 1966 and became a military policeman. After that, I ran bloodhounds for the Lee County State Prison for nearly five years.
“I’ll tell you this, those four-and-a-half years running those dogs were more dangerous that the 40 years I’ve spent in the sheriff’s office. In 1970, we caught up with a guy who had shot a sheriff and then he shot me. I also got shot at another time.”
As he prepares to leave office, Tompkins says the reason he chose not to run again was really simple.
“I”ve been here 28 years, I’ll be 66 at the end of the year,” Tompkins said. “I’m in pretty good health and I just think it’s time to give someone else a crack at this. I’ve been doing this all of my life.”
He’s been married to wife, Peggy, for 40 years, and the couple have two children — Amy and Mickie, who is a campus police officer with Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton.
Looking back on his time as Worth’s sheriff, Tompkins said his philosophy is to help people first, a trait he says he has passed down to his deputies.
“Probably 75 percent of my job doesn’t even involve law enforcement — it’s about helping people,” the sheriff said. “I tell my deputies to treat folks we arrest with respect because one day they will be out of jail. Do that and many of them will provide information later that will clear up a lot of crime.”
While Tompkins said the job has been enjoyable for the most part, it also carries a heavy load.
“The worst part of the job is getting those phone calls at one or two in the morning from out of state about wrecks that involved families who had gotten killed,” the sheriff said. “I always get up and go to the relatives’ house myself. It’s not fun, but that’s my job.”
Five men are vying to replace Tompkins as Worth’s sheriff — Democrats J.D. Daniels, Lenny Davis II and Gene Jones, and Republicans Ronnie Graddy and Jeff Hobby.
Tompkins refused to endorse any of the candidates. But once the new sheriff is decided and sworn into office in January, Tompkins knows what he wants to do.
“I think Peggy and I will travel around the country,” he said. “I’ve been to the southernmost point of the U.S. (Key West, Fla.) and now I want to go back to Alaska and visit the northernmost point at Point Barrow. I always liked Alaska.”
And odds are he’ll be happy doing it.