On November 18, 1905, the first Sheriff of Crisp County was administered the oath of office. Sheriff George Wylie Sheppard was no stranger to the community, law enforcement, or even the position of Sheriff. Prior to being appointed Sheriff in Crisp County, Sheriff Sheppard served two terms in Dooly County as Sheriff in 1892 and 1898.
In 1909, the second Sheriff of Crisp County began his term. Sheriff John Henry Ward was elected in 1908 on a democratic ticket. Sheriff Ward also had previous experience in the realm of law enforcement. Sheriff Ward was the son of Douglas County Sheriff Henry Ward. He was fourteen years old when he began working for his father at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office keeping records. Ward was appointed Deputy at age sixteen and held that position for twelve years. After changing careers from detective to bookkeeper, Ward found his way to the Bowen Mercantile Company of Cordele. In the fall of 1908, John Henry Ward was elected Sheriff of Crisp County and served for 12 years.
Sheriff Ward’s successor took office in 1921. During this time, it was customary for the Sheriff to have living quarters in the jail and Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Nobel and his family lived at the Crisp County Jail which was part of the court house located on 13th Avenue. Mrs. Nobel cooked all the prisoner’s meals as well as washed their clothes.
In 1929, J. Henry Pitts became the 4th Sheriff of Crisp County. Sheriff Pitts served for fifteen years. During his term, county officials and their functions were published for the citizens to remain well-informed of each individual’s responsibilities. Included in these were:
- He appoints an unlimited number of deputies and is responsible for their official acts.
- He helps maintain and preserve public peace which includes the control of the county jail, the arrest and safe-keeping of persons charged with crimes and the enforcement of statutes against gambling, vice and liquor selling.
- He is connected with the operation of the courts as executive agent.
- He is present at each session and in person or by deputy opens and closes court sessions.
- He maintains a proper degree of decorum and serves writs in connection with civil suits.
- He carries out the judgement of the court in civil suits.
- He carries out the judgement of the court in civil cases and executes the sentence of the court upon persons convicted of crimes or misdemeanors.
Chief John Richard Meeks served as the Chief of Police for the city of Cordele during Sheriff Pitt’s term. Chief Meeks then pursued a different position in law enforcement and became the fifth Sheriff of Crisp County. After serving for five years, he retired.
After a fifteen man race, Curtis Joiner became the sixth elected Sheriff. Prior to his role as Sheriff, Joiner graduated from West Crisp High School and went on to serve in the U.S. Army. Sheriff Joiner was a regular figure in the community working for American Baking Company and driving a Merita bread truck for about eight years.
In 1965, former Cordele Police Officer and State Trooper Earlie Posey was sworn in as the seventh Sheriff of Crisp County. Sheriff Posey served during some of the most tumultuous years due to the Civil Rights Movement. John Robert Benson followed Sheriff Posey in 1973 and remained Sheriff until 1980. Prior to his seat as Sheriff, Benson worked as a GA State Trooper for nine years at Post 30 in Cordele, GA.
Administered the oath of office by Probate Judge Elizabeth Westbrook, Ernest Wyatt Forrest became the ninth Sheriff of Crisp County. Sheriff Forrest held the office until 1987 when Donnie Haralson was appointed interim Sheriff of Crisp County by Governor Joe Frank Harris. Sheriff Haralson first served as a police officer in Cordele in 1977 and later, in 1985, he became the Chief of Police here.
The Crisp County Sheriff’s Office and jail moved from the courthouse to it’s present location in 1991. In addition to his role as Sheriff, Haralson also served as the Crisp County Emergency Management Director. Sheriff Haralson served Crisp County for twenty-five years making him the longest seated Sheriff in Crisp County. After a persistent, courageous battle with renal cancer in 2014, Sheriff Haralson chose Horace William “Billy” Hancock as successor to serve as Sheriff at his passing. Sheriff Hancock was elected in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of Haralson.
Billy Hancock served as Chief Deputy of the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office for 19 years prior to his appointment as Sheriff making him extremely seasoned and prepared for the responsibilities of Sheriff. Since elected, Sheriff Hancock has altered history by selecting the first female to serve as his Chief Deputy. In December 2016, Denise Youngblood was promoted to Chief Deputy.