There's a New Sheriff in Town
Sheriff John Wilcher. As both a navy veteran and lifelong Chatham County resident, the newly elected sheriff has a passion and outlook for the job that you won't find anywhere else. He's been working for this moment his entire career, and now that he has it, he plans to serve the people of Chatham County the way they deserve.
“You don’t work for me, I work for you,” Wilcher points out. “This office is always open. I’m open to my officers, I’m open to the citizens of Chatham County, I’m always open.”
These statements reign true in one of the first things he did after being sworn in as sheriff. He opened the lobby and briefing back to a 24-hour operation. Wilcher believes the jail needs to be accessible to the public at all times, including late at night. If a family member gets arrested at night, citizens deserve to be able to come in, be comfortable, use the restroom and have a place to take care of business. In Wilcher’s opinion, the citizens pay for the jail and the people who work in it, so they should have access to it at all times.
Another important goal for the new sheriff is recruiting the best talent to work on his team. “We are currently 55 officers short. I’m hoping to raise the starting salary, so we can be competitive with other departments in the area. If we aren’t competitive we won’t get the best.”
An important part of this recruitment effort is army and navy base outreach recruitment. The department will be sending deputies to the bases in the surrounding areas to entice retiring military to join the Chatham County Sheriff’s Department.
“We are a paramilitary organization, so it’s a natural fit for retiring veterans. After serving our country, we’d be proud to have them serve Chatham County,” notes Wilcher.
Wilcher is dedicated to keeping the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office a place for opportunity and mobility. Each new hire spends two years working in the jail, but then gets the chance to specialize in whatever department they choose.
“It’s important to get your hands in every piece of the pie,” he said. “That’s how I got to where I am today.”
And Wilcher didn’t get this job by accident; he has been working towards becoming sheriff of Chatham County since the day he started working in law enforcement.
“In 1974 I started with the sheriff’s department. Carl Griffin, who was the sheriff at that time, asked me what I wanted out of my career. And I told him, ‘I want your job.’”
To get acquainted with Chatham County's new town sheriff, be sure to get your copy of South's June/July issue.