When Lt. Col. John Cagle started with the Dawson County Sheriffs Office five-and-a-half years ago, one of his goals, he said, was to raise the bar of expectations.
Now that hes done that, he can retire. And he will on Jan. 31.
Cagle, who had a 30-year career with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, worked to raise the bar in the sheriffs office by educating staff on handling tough investigations.
I found my first meeting notes from May 2, 2008, Cagle said. In the meeting, I tried to stress to them they had not been able to work certain types of cases because the GBI was always called. ... There were a lot of investigators who had never worked a murder. My intention was to work with them to the point that when those more serious crimes came up they were ready.
One of Cagles most memorable cases was one of his first in Dawson Countya double homicide. The investigators and CID (Criminal Investigations Department) worked it, and it went from a real mystery on Saturday morning to completely solved on Sunday night. ... You could just see their confidence build.
Cagle said hes proud of the kind of cases the CID has been able to work since his arrival.
Im proud of all the divisions, he said. Im very proud of the accomplishments theyve made.
Sheriff Billy Carlisle is also happy with the knowledge Cagle has brought to the department.
The thing about John is he came to work for us and he had all that mass knowledge and experience from the GBI, Carlisle said. And hes brought that with him. ... Hes been able to bring that knowledge and teach our employees, our officers, our investigators that same mindset on these cases, and thats helped us a lot. Hes taken us up another step on the ladder.
Hes going to be missed, the sheriff said.
State Rep. and former Dawson County Chief Deputy Kevin Tanner agrees. John Cagle has spent the majority of his life protecting the citizens of North Georgia, Tanner said. I consider it one of the highlights of my career to have been able to work with him for many years. He is one of the most dedicated and committed law enforcement officers I have known. His retirement will be a loss to the Dawson County Sheriffs Office, but I am confident the knowledge he leaves behind will assist the staff for many years to come.
Even though Cagle started out as a high school physical education teacher, hes always had an interest in law.
I was always fascinated with law enforcement, he said. And I was always very respectful of the GBI. If I was going to get in thats where I wanted to try.
After 30 years in the GBI and almost six years with Dawson County, its not something thats going to be easy to give up.
Its one (law enforcement career) Ive had for so long its kind of bittersweet, I suppose, Cagle said. But its time. Ill miss the people here I work closely with more than Ill miss the duties.
Cagle decided now is the time to retire so he can spend more time with his aging parents and young grandchildren. And thats all there is to it, he said. I think whenever some people say Im leaving to spend more time with my family, usually that has some sort of backstory. This one doesnt. Theres no backstory here.
But not going to work on Jan. 2 will be strange for Cagle.
January 1, Im not that concerned with because theres all kinds of activities going on. January 2, I think Im concerned with the most because when I wake up Ill look around and for the first time in many, many years not have to get up, get ready and come to work. And thats a little scary.
All that said, Cagle is looking forward to riding his motorcycle more and playing golf. Or just do nothing, he said.
Cagle supervises the day-to-day operations of the sheriffs office. Which he says was a transition from investigations and the GBI. Cagle is also responsible for the administrative side of running the sheriffs office, including keeping up with policies and personnel.
Carlisle said he has not made any decision on a replacement for Cagle. Just going to wait and see, he said. Im looking at the department as a whole overall and seeing what does the county need overall and what does the department need?
Cagles last day on the job is Dec. 31. And if hes needed, hell be there until the office closes at 5 p.m.
Might as well work all day, he said.