Current Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson recently announced plans to run for reelection.
Johnson has served as sheriff for the past two and a half years. Prior to being elected sheriff, Johnson had more than 26 years of law enforcement experience including time served in the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department. He served roles in detention, patrol, investigations and training.
“I want our community to know that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Dawson County’s Sheriff,” Johnson said.
If elected for a second term, Johnson would like to expand on the office’s current initiatives which include making use of the Crime Suppression Unit, maintaining employee retention rates, investing in specialized training and continuing community outreach and transparency.
Johnson said the office is currently in good position, as a recent increase in pay has increased employee retention.
“We cleared a big hurdle this week,” Johnson said of his recent appearance at the July 18 Board of Commissioners voting session.
Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond explained to Johnson during the voting session that as sheriff, Johnson has the authority to provide raises without seeking a vote of approval from the board.
As with his current term, Johnson said if reelected he would continue to invest in his people. So far that includes a pay increase that makes Dawson County’s salary competitive with its northern neighbors. He also plans to expand specialized training which would include mental health first responder training as well as special needs response training.
As far as when the community can expect to see these plans in action, Johnson said he’s not waiting until the election is settled in May.
“We’ve got work to do now,” Johnson said.
It’s likely that specialized training, advances in technology and expansion of community programs come to the sheriff’s office well before the election in May because Johnson said he’s not going to wait to implement initiatives when things can be done now.
Johnson said he also believes in being present and transparent in the community, with continuation of programs like the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Academy, the Junior Law Enforcement Academy, the Explorer’s Program, and firearms safety, women’s self-defense and church safety classes.
He would also like to continue with town hall meetings throughout the year to provide updates on the sheriff’s office. Citizens are also welcome to stop by his office to talk to him.
“My door is always open and there’s no appointment necessary… that will not change,” Johnson said.
During Johnson’s time as sheriff, the office has received numerous upgrades including attaining state re-certification and medical department re-accreditation, reinstating the SWAT team and creating the Crime Suppression Unit, as well as implementing a bomb dog, realistic training simulations and the Judgmental Use of Force Simulator.
After going through the budget process this year, Johnson hopes to implement body cameras for officers which will reduce the office’s liability as well as lead to the potential of greater prosecution success.
Johnson has lived in Dawson County for more than 35 years. He has been married to Lisa for more than 27 years and has two sons, Zach and Josh, a daughter-in-law, Whitney, and a rescue terrier mix named Boo. Johnson is a member of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Dawsonville. In his career in law enforcement he has been a member of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association, the National Sheriff’s Association, NRA, Chiefs of Police, Dawson County Chamber of Commerce, the Dawson County Drug Task Force, the Dawson County Domestic Violence Task Force, the Edmonson Telford Center for Children, Dawson County Family Connection, School Governance Council and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.