DAWSON, Ga. — The logic of Terrell County Sheriff John Bowens is irrefutable.
“I always run on my record, and the people of this county have elected me for the past five terms,” Bowens said. “I must be doing something right.”
Bowens will put his record on the line again July 31 when he seeks a sixth term as sheriff. He made the announcement of his re-election plans Tuesday.
“If I am re-elected, I will continue to do what is right by serving all citizens of Terrell County fairly and honestly,” Bowens, who served 17 years as a TSO deputy before being elected sheriff 20 years ago, said in making the announcement. “I have loved serving the people here, and I feel that I owe them the best service I can provide.
“The people here are good people.”
Bowens defeated then-Terrell Sheriff Jerry Dean, who had been in office for 18 years, in 1992, becoming the first African-American to serve as Terrell’s top lawman. He was injured in a courtroom scuffle with a prisoner in 2001, and his administration has been dogged by complaints about the conditions of and the substandard pay of officers at the county jail.
The Terrell sheriff said he and his staff have had to learn to do without.
“With the economy the way it is and budgets getting tighter and tighter, we are doing without a lot of things that would help us do our job better,” Bowens said. “There have been a lot of (budget) cuts along the way. But one thing I’ve learned over the years is that you have to take what you’ve got and do the best you can with it.
“People ask about what the sheriff’s office does in Terrell County, and I tell them that we do the things that no one else wants to do. We’ve got a pretty good-sized county to cover with 10 deputies, and it becomes a little tougher when you have such a great amount of turnover. I can’t fault (deputies) who come in here to work and then take a job in another county where they can make more money.”
Bowens said one of the primary concerns about law enforcement today as compared to when he was first elected is the amount of crime and the recidivism that has become rampant.
“We find ourselves a lot of the time dealing with the same people over and over and over,” he said. “I understand that the prisons are full now, but I think if the criminals got more time for heavier crimes, it would set an example for the smaller crimes. But right now, it’s like a revolving door.”