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Reece honored for service by fellow Georgia sheriffs

CONTRIBUTED Sheriff Terry Deese (left) of Peach County, Georgia Sheriff Association 2017 Sheriff of the Year, hands Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece (center) his award for being named 2018 Sheriff of the Year. GSA Executive Direct

Jones County can add another distinction to its rich history for being the home of Georgia’s 2018 Sheriff of the Year.

Sheriff Butch Reece was announced as the Sheriff of the Year at the conclusion of this year’s Georgia Sheriff’s Association Conference Aug. 1 held on Jekyll Island.

Reece has been Jones County’s Sheriff for 38 years, and he said he was honored and surprised at the award.

“I cherish the office of sheriff, not that it’s Sheriff Butch Reece,” he said. “I’m proud to be a member of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and of the fact that most of the time we can help people.”

The sheriff began his career in law enforcement as a deputy in 1972 and was elected sheriff in 1980. The first years of his career included being one of four deputies at the Jones County Sheriff’s Office. He still categorizes himself as a dirt-road sheriff.

During an interview at one of the few times he has been opposed in an election, Reece said why he wanted to be sheriff.

“I consider myself a public servant, and I enjoy serving the people of Jones County,” he said.

Reece is an active member of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and has hosted an annual salute to Georgia sheriffs every September since 2013 to recognize the value of Georgia sheriffs.

In his nomination for the Sheriff of the Year by Jones County Chief Deputy Barbara Burnette, she said Reece has always had a passion for helping people.

“Because of his leadership, determination and drive, Jones County’s crime rate remains low,” she said.

Burnette said he takes every crime seriously.

“He will tell you, if it wasn’t important to the person complaining, they wouldn’t have made the complaint,” she said.

The chief said Reece has high standards and requires his staff to train extensively, above and beyond state mandates.

The Jones County Sheriff’s Department obtained its first certification from the State of Georgia in 2004 and has maintained that certification since.

The sheriff continues to be involved in the community. He has raised funds for Boy Scouts, created a safe house and established an enhanced 911 center.

The JCSO works with Jones County schools by providing a school resource officer and educating students through CHAMPS and the Rolling Reader program.

An additional school resource officer was added this year.

A weeklong summer camp for kids at the Sheriff’s Department, which was the sheriff’s idea, started last year.

Burnette said the best way to sum up Reece is that he lives, eats and breathes ‘sheriffing’ 24 hours a day, and he is always accessible to the public.

“When you call the office to speak to Sheriff Reece, you get Sheriff Reece himself,” she said. “He will always listen to people’s concerns and problems.”

He will tell you, if it wasn’t important to the person complaining, they wouldn’t have made the complaint. – Chief Deputy Barbara Burnette