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Houston County Sheriff:
Living Legend Cullen Talton

by Jerrilyn McGhee Larkin

Many county residents cannot remember anyone else being Sheriff of Houston County, Georgia except Cullen Talton. Since January 1, 1973 he has been "the chief law enforcement officer in the county." Talton says the next term will be his last. If so, it would end more than 44 years of law enforcement characterized by several county residents as "strict enforcement of the law, fairness to all on either side of the law, strong dedication to personnel training and advancement, and diligence to building friendly interaction between the sheriff's office and the public served." Those may be reasons he is running unopposed for th at last term in the upcoming election.

"I have an open door policy," Talton says. "Anyone can get in to see me at any time during the day, with or without an appointment." He adds, his officers generally serve the unincorporated areas of the county, "but residents of the towns in the county may choose to bypass their local police departments, ask for and receive response from us, instead, because all are under sheriff's jurisdiction." With 335 personnel to supervise including 132 deputized officers, oversight of the county's E 9-1-1 system and SRT [Sheriff’s Response Team], responsibilities for security at the county courthouse and for magistrate, juvenile and superior court sessions, personnel training, recordkeeping and direct supervision at the county jail, Talton has always had a full agenda in Houston County.

Few employees of the sheriff's department vacate their positions before retirement, but he points to the 25-year service of Major Tommy Jackson [African American] as an example of personnel longevity with the department. However, the sheriff notes frequent turnover at the county jail as being an understandable challenge, "because direct supervision is required." Jail guards there must live on the cellblocks with the general population inmates and, so far, "there have been no major problems," the sheriff reports, but adds "though this arrangement reduces violent incidents among the inmate population and destruction of jail furnishings and equipment, it is especially demanding of the guards. It is a job you almost have to want to do in order to stay with it." Inmates who cannot be monitored in this way are housed in separate pods, "but usually there are only a few of them," Talton insists.

The sworn officers [those with arrest powers] include 9 female deputies and 20 minority race ones. All have bulletproof vests and tazers but the department is still field-testing body cam(era)s with possible purchase in the future. A total of 117 clearly marked sheriff's office vehicles with dash cams hit the road daily. The standard [and most often seen] officer uniform is "French [medium] blue" trousers, dark blue top with encircled gold star badge, other identifying tags, and merit insignia attached.

As most would expect, the Houston County Sheriff's team cooperates with all the county's municipalities as needed and also accepts assistance from them in emergency situations, as in the event of drug raids, fugitive alerts and natural disasters. Georgia law allows a county sheriff in Georgia to make arrests anywhere in the state of Georgia, and Sheriff Talton warns, "County lines do not limit a sheriff’s jurisdiction."

Houston County
Sheriff’s Department
202 Carl Vinson
Warner Robins,
Georgia 31088



© Copyright 2016 by The Middle Georgia Informer
P.O. Box 446, Macon, • GA 31202 * Ofc: 478-745-7265

Gwenette Westbrooks
Cullen Talton