Eighteen days into his new position as Sheriff of Upson County, Dan Kilgore remains excited and is seeing that excitement reflected in the attitudes of his staff and employees. Kilgore said in an interview with The Thomaston Times last week that he has enjoyed every minute of his time in office since he officially took over at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2013.
“Of course, the first day was a real challenge, because you take office at midnight and the first day is a holiday,” said Kilgore. “I came to work at midnight and greeted the staff that worked the night shift, and came back that morning and visited with the folks that were working during the day. That seems to have been the right thing to do. I certainly think the people see that you care and want to do a good job.
“I’ve met with all of the departments together. I met with the investigators, I met with the patrol people, and the jail staff. Basically, I went through my philosophy and goals. We discussed what I wanted to get accomplished and made sure that they were completely familiar with that. I discussed what the office of Sheriff meant and what their appointment as either a deputy or a jailer would include, and what responsibilities would come along with that.
“I offered everyone here that was currently employed an appointment. My statement to them was that everyone who was employed should have an opportunity to keep their job. I want them to keep their job. But to keep their job, we’ve got to work. We’re going to work hard and get along with other people. We haven’t had any of those issues, and everybody so far is very motivated.”
Kilgore, who was Chief Deputy of Upson County for 21 years before being elected Sheriff in November following the retirement of Don Peacock, isn’t ready to appoint a new Chief Deputy.
“I have budgeted for one, but I know immediately I’m not going to appoint a Chief. What I’ve done is developed a Command Staff utilizing the five captains that we have. I’ve got a captain over each division, and I’ve met with them almost every morning since taking office. Lily Williams is the Administrative Captain. Stoney Speer is over Court Services. William Hosley is over Investigations, Toby Hardeman is over Patrol, and Ralph Searcy is over our Jail Administration. We exchange information on what I want to see accomplished and what has been involved in each day’s work. That seems to be doing very well. They are exchanging information among themselves, and we seem to be accomplishing some goals and making some progress. But I’m well pleased with that so far.”
Sheriff Kilgore had some ideas of what he wanted to do once he took office, and he has been able to implement several of them already.
“Luckily, we’ve been able to work and get our jail count down. It is actually lower than it has been in recent years, and I’m thankful for that. It takes some pressure off us,” said Kilgore. “I’ve got some inmate goals to move them on. We’re going to have a special set trial calendar, working with the D.A.’s office and the Superior Court Judge. They set a special trial week for February 11, so I hope we’ll be able to move a couple of cases we’ve had. Terrell Searcy is the number one person I’d like to see tried, and the D.A.’s office agrees, and we’re certainly going to get him in front of a judge and jury and decide whether he is going to prison or not, and get that taken care of.
“We’ve tried to tidy some things up. I’ve got all my people with their oaths taken. I’ve worked with our insurance company. We have to post a bond for every jailer and every deputy. It is required by law. We were paying $75 per employee per year, and with around 70 people, that’s about $5,500 we were paying. Then, if somebody would leave or quit, we had to get another bond for the person who took their place. So we were spending $6,000 plus per year just on bonds. I’ve worked with the insurance company and gotten a blanket bond policy that will cover all of them, including me, for about $1,400 a year. We saved a little money there.
“We’ve also worked to reduce our liability insurance. We cut almost $12,000 off the annual premium for our liability insurance, and took the deductible down significantly, from $25,000 to $10,000, and have the same coverage. So I’m proud of that. Just within the first week, we’ve saved about $18,000 a year, which I’m proud of. I hope we’ll find other measures of being good stewards with the money that we’ve been given.
“I’ve been very busy just working out the administrative details. I had a lot of strong, good support from the community and well wishes. I think people care about the Sheriff’s Office and they want to see a good, positive Sheriff’s Office in the community, and I’m excited about that. It has been a real good first 18 days.
“Of course, we had the accident uptown, but luckily, it wasn’t the deputy’s fault. I’m sorry that the man was injured and wish it hadn’t happened at all, but luckily, we were free from being at fault in it.”
Kilgore is also pleased with the support he is getting, not only from the community, but from surrounding jurisdictions as well.
“I met with our four Griffin Judicial Circuit Sheriffs. We’ve got a good working relationship. I’m excited about that. We’ve got a good group of elected Sheriffs in the four counties. We plan to meet about once a month to discuss things that are relative to the Sheriff’s Offices,” said Kilgore.
“I met with the Police Chief. We’re off on a good accord. We have a good working relationship. I’ve met with the Task Force agents, especially the ones that are assigned from the Sheriff’s Office. We anticipate a good working relationship and a busy working relationship. We’re going to make a difference in the drug trade.
“I’ve worked in the jail, trying to improve and create efficiency there to keep things going in the right direction. It has been a smooth administration change. Most of our folks seem to be pretty happy. But I’m happy to say we had a situation here where it wasn’t an adversarial kind of changeover, which makes things go a lot easier.
“I’m happy to be here and excited about it,” Kilgore added. “It has been fun. I’m excited every morning to get here. That’s a good thing.”