Sheriff Smith Seeks Re-election as Sheriff of Camden County

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sheriff-smithPress Release: March 24th, 2008
Prior to his election as sheriff in 1984 Sheriff Smith proudly served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps and as an agent with the FBI fighting organized crime. He also worked for Gilman Paper Company and served three terms on the Camden County Board of Commissioners. During his tenure Sheriff Smith has always maintained an open door policy.

Since taking office as Sheriff of Camden County in January 1985 the Sheriff’s Office has seen unprecedented growth as the department adapted to the ever growing responsibility of protecting and serving all the citizens of Camden County. He has always operated on the premise that he was elected to do everything in his power to improve the quality of life by any means possible for the people of Camden County.

His philosophy led to the implementation of a number of innovative and effective programs, the day to day services that he and his deputies provide to county citizens. They share a sense of pride and teamwork in ensuring that citizens receive the most professional and community oriented service possible.

The Sheriff’s Office interdiction team has seized more than $20 million in drug funds and thousands of pounds of cocaine and marijuana from drug couriers on Interstate 95, the infamous, “Cocaine Corridor.” Millions of these dollars travel the roads passing through this county on a daily basis. These were dollars destined to bring more and larger amounts of the drugs to not just all communities, but to “Our” community; to injure and kill our children, to assault our citizens and to steal from us. Many of these dollars, once seized have been turned into the only hope for our future: the education of our young people.

The drug dealer’s money has gone to establish 8 college scholarships. The scholarships go to at-risk students who maintain a “B” average and who are seeking a degree in criminal justice or a related field and are residents of southeast Georgia with a preference to Camden County residents.

The funds have also gone to support education and a local chapter of the Police Athletic League. The PAL provides opportunities for at-risk children to interact with positive role models and to participate in healthy activities as an alternative to drugs.

Sheriff Smith has also turned the drug dealer’s money against them by purchasing vehicles and equipment for the Sheriff’s Office and every other law enforcement agency in Camden County. This policy saved county taxpayers millions of dollars.

Sheriff Smith also used these seized drug funds to purchase and refurbish the former “Fathoms” nightclub in St. Marys as a department substation. This substation makes the department much more accessible to the majority of county residents as well as dramatically cutting transport and booking times for the Kingsland and St. Marys Police Departments. The substation houses the 911 dispatch center, a 30-bed jail and office space.

Sheriff Smith also actively supports the Celebrate Recovery Program. This faith based 12-step program has proven effective in the lives of many people. Sheriff Smith was proud to help a number of Camden citizens acquire Celebrate Recovery training. Acknowledgement of Sheriff Smith’s efforts by Rev. Rick Warren can be found at http://www.pastors.com/rwmt/article.asp?ArtID=8882

The Camden County Courthouse is protected by a state of the art security system and by deputies who are trained and equipped specifically to protect everyone who enters the courthouse. Despite increasing jail populations, budget cuts and staffing shortages the Camden County Jail continues to run effectively. Sheriff Smith looks forward to working with local leaders to develop a long term solution to this problem.

Sheriff Smith believes that inmate trusty programs are a valuable asset to the county. He believes that trusties should wear out working rather than rust out sitting behind bars. In this county, the list of jobs and tasks performed by these workers is wide and varied. From the simple daily task of cleaning trash discarded on our roadways by less than conscientious people, to the repairing of county buildings and property. Inmate workers assist in clean up after natural disasters, clear our roadways when major accidents block them with debris, and keep city and county parks and recreation areas clean and safe for our children and us. Otherwise, all this would come out of an already strained budget.

If all the jobs completed by these inmate workers had to be compensated by tax dollars, the additional burden on the county alone would be around one and a half million dollars each year. These same workers also perform duties in and for the cities of Kingsland, St. Marys and Woodbine on a daily basis. This helps offset city taxes for those of us who reside within geographical limits of the cities: over and above what is required of county taxes.

Opinions on crime and punishment vary greatly. Some would lock away and discard those who offend; and for some offenders for particularly heinous and repeat offenses that may be the only recourse. For most however, those who offend will do their time and return to our community. Many have returned with the skills and self-confidence they acquired while working as trusties.

Sheriff Smith’s multifaceted, people-based approach to law enforcement is why Camden County has one of the lowest murder rates in the State of Georgia. Camden County is a peaceful, friendly and safe county to live in due in no small part to the efforts of Sheriff Smith and the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.

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