Men and women from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglasville Police Department, Douglas County Fire/EMS, Douglas County E-911 and Douglas County Emergency Management Agency were all given a pat on the back for a job well done Tuesday during this month’s Douglas County Chamber’s GreyStone Power Luncheon.
The theme, “Honoring Our Local Heroes” is an annual event put on by the chamber to honor the county’s fire responders that risk harm to keep the community safe.
In addition to recognizing representatives from public safety, retiring Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller received some playful ribbing from colleagues and friends who lightly roasted him. Miller has been in law enforcement for four decades and has been sheriff of Douglas County for the past 16 years.
Teasing and jokes were made at Miller’s expense by Douglas County Fire Chief Scott Spencer, retired former Chief Deputy Stan Copeland, consultant Erick Thompson and Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan.
“You have no idea how long we’ve been waiting for this,” Spencer told Miller regarding his impending retirement. But his tone changed. “Sheriff Miller and I have been friends for a long time. I think the sheriff has shown what it is to be a true servant. He is a a professional and a true leader.”
Copeland, following several jokes, said, “As chief deputy, I had the opportunity to look behind the scenes. One thing he said when he took office was that he would cooperate with every department in the county and (that he) wouldn’t have any in-fighting.”
Copeland said that as the top man in the department, Miller never took credit for the accomplishments of the department, but would step up as sheriff and take responsibility for it.
Consultant Eric Thompson, who worked with Miller on the new jail project, said that Miller “was so respected throughout the state.”
“He is a ‘give the shirt off his back’ kind of guy,” said Thompson.
Worthan said that Miller has been “a great friend of mine” and recalled that after lean years during the recession, county employees — including sheriff’s department employees — did not get raises.
“When the economy was beginning to come back, the sheriff came and asked about giving his employees raises,” Worthan said. “But he didn’t want us to just give his people raises. He was looking after all of our employees.”
“That’s one of the things I admire about Phil Miller.” he said. “He takes care of all of us.”
Following all of the jesting and praise, it was Miller’s time to get up to the podium.
Miller said he first started out working as Douglasville Police Department’s only detective, then-Sheriff Earl Lee hired him and made him a detective with the sheriff’s office.
“We’re not here in the community to hurt you,” he said. “We’re here to help you and be a partner to you. I’ve enjoyed being your sheriff. The greatest part of my job when I get up each day is to help someone.”
Chamber members and guests learned a number of interesting facts from each public safety agency recognized.
The Douglasville Police Department currently has 94 certified police officers and from Jan.1 through Sept. 30 has responded to 39,055 calls and made 2,248 arrests — up by 179 from the same time period in 2015.
Douglas County E-911 took its first call on Sept. 11, 1990. It provides public safety dispatch for the Douglas County Fire Department and the Douglasville Police Department, as well as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for calls involving loss of life or property in the county.
Douglas County E-911 received over 114,000 calls made directly to 911 and had over 35,000 911 callers directed to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
E-911 Director Greg Whitaker is ending his fourth term as president of Georgia 911 Directors Association.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office answers 150,000 phone calls from the public and has patrolled over 1.7 million miles. The sheriff’s office has answered over 75,000 calls for service. A jailer assigned to the floors of the jail will walk approximately six miles during a 12-hour shift. The department employs 373 positions.
Douglas County Emergency Management Agency is responsible for the management of all emergency preparedness program areas within the county. Its primary role is to develop and implement comprehensive disaster planning, mitigation and response activities in Douglas County. Its director is Jason Milhollin, who was also recognized during the luncheon.