Moats, who won election on Nov. 6, has many short and long term goals for the Sheriff’s Office and for Polk County.
Moats said his main focus as the sheriff is to build a good command staff that handles the daily operations of the office.
“I just oversee [the Sherriff’s Office] and make sure everything is running smoothly. If my administration has any problems, they come to me and we sit down as a group and work out any problems.” Moats said.
“To me, my main job is to make sure that I, and all these other guys, have a job in the next four years. I want to please the people of Polk County. I’m there to listen to what they want from the Sheriff’s Office. They want their officers to look and act professionally, and that is one of my goals.”
Moats said that the primary responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office is to protect the citizens and property of the county.
“We do that, but we also have the county police out there doing it,” Moats said. “They are out there answering calls. We do that as well, and our officers are trained for it, but we have other duties,” Moats said.
The Sheriff’s Office maintains the jail, making sure the inmates are secure. Deputies are responsible for tasks related to civil service.
“Any kind of civil paper that comes through our court system we have to serve, like lawsuits, garnishments and evictions,” Moats explained.
“We try to do most of the funeral escorts and we do all of the mental transports. Georgia law requires that we transfer any mental patients to the hospital. We also have to serve all the warrants.”
Moats has been in law enforcement for more than a decade, but before his criminal justice career he was a craftsman.
“I had never been in law enforcement before; I was actually a cabinet builder.” Moats said.
Moats worked at the Polk County jail for about a year before he was signed on with the Polk County Police, who sent him to the police academy for training. After working with the county police, Moats moved on to spend several years with the Polk County Sheriff’s office, serving under the command of three Polk sheriffs before leaving the county to work as an armed security guard for a power company.
Moats said that the armed security job seemed great and had good benefits and retirement. He said he planned on sticking with it, but he just couldn’t stay there; he missed law enforcement too much.
“I knew the only way I could get back into the Sheriff’s Office is run for sheriff. So I did it,” Moats said.
Since Jan. 1, his first day in office, Moats has been training and working to get his office in order. After that, he plans to start making changes around Polk County by implementing new programs and changing the appearance of the office in general.
“My goal is to train these guys to work for me so that I can be out in the community hearing the concerns of the people,” Moats said. “I have learned a lot about what people expect from the sheriff’s office; people want to see the sheriff and I want to be out there. It’s killing me being stuck in this office. I want to be visible and let people know that they can come up and talk to me, I want to hear their gripes and concerns.”
Another goal for Moats is to start a program called CHAMPS, in which sheriff’s deputies promote healthy living styles to local fifth graders.
Moats said the program teaches about peer pressure and drugs and educates children on how to do the right thing and be honest citizens.
Another program that Moats said he hopes to start is a firearms class at the new county firing range. He said that he wants to instruct citizens on how to best defend themselves while keeping everyone safe.
Moats mentioned that one of his biggest challenge and main goal right now is to get the jail back in shape. He mentioned that there are electrical and mechanical problems that keep the jail from being as safe as it should be.
“I have a lot of concerns with the jail right now,” Moats said. “It’s going to cost a lot of money to get the jail in the condition it needs to be in, and I don’t think there is a lot of money in the budget to do it. But we have to make it safe.”
An increased presence in local schools is another goal that Moats has on his radar.
“Ever since the Sandy Hook incident, I have told the deputies that I want them to go to the school every chance they get,” Moats said. “I want them to introduce themselves to the principals and walk around and talk to the teachers and students at all of the schools. That way if someone thinks about doing something at a school, they will know that we could be there.”
Moats said that his main long-term goal is to earn the respect of the citizens and have the best sheriff’s office in Georgia.
“I want people to be out there talking about the sheriff’s office and what a great place it is,” Moats said. “I want to be out there listening to citizens. They’re the ones that vote us in here and they are the people I have to keep happy.”