Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle has announced he will seek re-election for a fifth term in 2012.
A certified officer since 1988, Carlisle began his law enforcement career as a 911 dispatcher before transferring to the patrol division, where he rose to lieutenant and later division commander.
Carlisle, 50, was first elected sheriff in 1996, replacing Randy Chester, who retired.
"When I was first elected, this was a very small department, so small that we had deputies riding together because we didn't have enough cars, and the equipment they needed they bought themselves," he said. "As this county has grown, our department has also grown to support the growth."
Carlisle said the key to accomplishing goals in any field or business is to surround oneself with people who are experts at their jobs.
He recently restructured the department to better meet the needs of the community.
"I looked around and I reorganized," he said. "I determined who are experts in their fields and I moved some of my people around to better serve this department and this county.
"I think we have one of the finest sheriff's departments in north Georgia."
Earlier this year, he also formed a new crime suppression unit to handle cases involving drugs and thefts, many brought on by the economic downfall.
"And it's been successful," Carlisle said. "We've seen real progress in these areas, and I'm proud of that, proud of our officers and investigators for that success."
Carlisle said he is also proud of the many community programs created during his tenure. Those include the citizens' law enforcement and junior law enforcement academies and placing resource officers at local schools.
Carlisle was instrumental in bringing alcohol and drug awareness education in to the local school system.
The sheriff said he's continuously looking for ways to increase service while also being cautious with taxpayer money.
With the largest department of county government, Carlisle said he is as cautious with the agency's spending as he is his household budget.
"We know we could use more new patrol cars, but we also know that budgets are tight right now, so we have to make due with ones we have until times are better," he said.
A 1979 Dawson County High graduate, Carlisle holds certifications from the Northeast Georgia Police Academy, Georgia Sheriff's Elect Academy and National Sheriff's Institute.
He has extensive public safety experience, having worked in law enforcement for nearly 25 years, all in Dawson County.
"I've worked in every department in the sheriff's office and enjoyed my time," he said. "I've always been told to leave things better than you found them. I know we've done that, and I'd like to serve this community for another term."
Carlisle has been married for more than 30 years to Cathy Chappell Carlisle, an educator who has taught at Robinson Elementary School for three decades.
The couple has two adult children and two children who attend Dawson County Middle School.