Police Unity Tour is Proudly Represented by Habersham County


Officers from Habersham County are continuing their bicycle ride across Florida as part of the 2021 Police Unity Tour.

Sgt. Griggs Wall, a school resource officer, is joined by Lt. Kevin Marsteller from Cornelia Police Department and others for this year’s event. Justin Williams from the sheriff’s office also is serving in a support role for the ride.

Notably absent this year is Georgia Department of Natural Resources Captain Stan Elrod, a regular rider who was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver while participating in his department’s physical training on Sept. 3, 2020.

Elrod was Region 2 supervisor for DNR Law Enforcement that includes Habersham County, as Wall explains.

0:10 {WALL 1: “And it’s not just the officers that we lost in our own county. We had an officer that resides in Habersham County that passed away due to COVID who was Brian McNair.”}

A former Habersham County deputy sheriff, McNair was a lieutenant at Hall County Sheriff’s Office when he died July 20, 2020, following confirmed exposure to three positive inmates in the Hall County Jail.

Fallen officers from Habersham County include Deputy Sheriff Scott Smith, who died in the line of duty in 1996, and Clarkesville Police Patrolmen Maxie Mote and Carroll York, who died during a vehicle pursuit in 1971.

Police Unity Tour riders do so each year during National Police Week to remember fallen comrades and to raise money for the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C., which bears the names of all officers killed in the line of duty.

It’s almost high school graduation time and in Habersham County, officials are looking for the largest commencement ceremony yet.

0:17 {COOPER: “We’re feeling very confident that we can have a normal graduation. I don’t want the Class of 2021 to only be able to bring four people – what a shame. And there are school systems all across this state, that’s what they’re doing. I can’t control what they do, only what we do in Habersham. Bring your whole family – I think you’re going to see a record crowd.”}

That’s Habersham County Schools Superintendent Matthew Cooper.

Habersham Central’s graduation ceremony is set for 8 p.m. Friday, May 21, on John Larry Black Field in Raider Stadium in Mt. Airy.

Temporary Police Chief Jerry Saulters, who is filling in for up to eight weeks while the City of Baldwin selects a new police chief, already has impressed city leaders, including Mayor Joe Elam.

0:29 {ELAM: “We hate to put someone in a position that we’re not giving a finished product to, but this gentleman, he comes in with a great pedigree, an amazing amount of professionalism. You know it as soon as you meet the man. We’re so excited about having this extra bit of support as we try to move forward. Our goal really is to make Baldwin one of the best police departments in the area, well all around just to be honest with you.”}

Baldwin is advertising statewide for a permanent police chief.

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Saulters is guiding the department’s two remaining officers, who are patrolling the city between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Deputies from the Banks and Habersham County sheriff’s offices are patrolling the city at night.

Saulters, deputy chief for Athens-Clarke County Police Department, comes to Baldwin under contract from Excellence Exceeded, a consulting firm in Evans.