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New sheriff spends NYE weekend swearing-in deputies

FORSYTH COUNTY -- While many Forsyth County residents were out celebrating the New Year last weekend, newly sworn-in Sheriff Ron Freeman was ringing in 2017 at the sheriff’s office north precinct.

Freeman spent New Year’s Eve and most of the long weekend swearing-in deputies, ensuring all would be ready for action come 12 a.m. Jan. 1, said Deputy Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.

“It was imperative that deputies working the 6 p.m. [New Year’s Eve] shift got sworn in, but everyone was offered the chance,” Rainwater said. “As of [Tuesday] afternoon, all but four deputies have been sworn in.”

Under Georgia state law, deputies draw their authority from Office of the Sheriff, which means any time a new sheriff is elected and sworn in, the deputies, too, whether current or new employees, must also be sworn in.

Rainwater said while it was a legal formality, deputies seemed pleased with their new sheriff.

“People left the swearing-in ceremony with smiles,” Rainwater said. “Some of the deputies didn’t know Sheriff Freeman and for them, it was kind of the unknown. After the ceremony, they all had smiles and knew it was all going to work out.”

Freeman said at the ceremonies he asked each deputy to make three promises: to do their job, do it well and do it while treating everybody with respect.

“If they do those three things, they will be very successful at the agency and we will be successful as an agency,” Freeman said. “Mistakes happen, but I have no room for immoral or unethical decisions that [deputies] know are wrong.”

Freeman also said he wanted to reassure the deputies the command staff supports them and the agency.

“The purpose of my talk with them was to emphasize my command staff’s support so that they, in turn, keep the county and the citizens safe,” he said. “I [wanted] them to know they have the necessary tools and resources to keep the community safe.”