Chatham Co. Sheriff: Wilcher beats Incumbent Harris in runoff election

Chatham Co. Sheriff: Wilcher beats Incumbent Harris in runoff election

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Things are starting to wrap up at the Wilcher watch party, but it has been one happy crowd Tuesday night to celebrate the new Chatham County Sheriff.

Wilcher won Tuesday night's run-off with a 22 percent margin over Interim Sheriff Roy Harris.

Total voter turnout for the race: about 15 percent.

Wilcher said the first thing he wants to do is meet with the staff at the Chatham Co. Sheriff's Office and meet with people in the community to listen to their input and understand their needs.

Among his top priorities: the jail. He plans to beef up recruiting efforts to hire about 30 to 35 people to address understaffing. He also wants to ensure the recent use of force issues the jail has seen don't happen again.

"First of all, when I go in there...when I was a jail administrator we didn't allow some of the things that have happened there in the two years that I've been gone. We're going to address how to get inmates in the jail, how to handle them and everything else, so that we can take care of them and then my people can be taken care of without getting hurt and without us hurting an inmate," said Chatham County Sheriff-elect John Wilcher.

The new sheriff told WTOC he plans to meet with Harris in the next few days to discuss next steps, and he anticipates a smooth transition of office.

Wilcher has over 40 years of service in the Chatham Co. Sheriff's Office. He retired with the rank of Colonel in 2014.

He also served as Jail Administrator and has more than 3,000 hours of advanced and specialized training.

His service dates back to 1961, where he served in the United States Navy until 1964. He also served in the United States Army Reserve until 1967.

Harris held his results watch party at the Holiday Inn Express on Bay Street.

"Well, naturally, I'm disappointed, but it's not the end of the world. I'll move on. If we decide to run in the next round of the election, we've got a lot of support out there and people want us to go forward... and if not, then we'll make that decision too," said Harris.

Like Wilcher, Harris also brings over 40 years of law enforcement experience.

He was appointed Chief Deputy of the Sheriff's in 2011 by late long time Sheriff Al St. Lawrence.

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