Promotions, new positions change sheriff’s office

by Wes Mayer

Following the retirement of Lt. Col. Bob Yeager on July 26, there have been a few changes in the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office staff assignments.

According to Sheriff Mike Yeager, all changes were seamless, and the CCSO had been preparing to fill the opened positions with an eye toward safety and security.

“I think they are good changes,” Mike Yeager said. “We are always thinking — what better way can we serve the community? And we like to have those with knowledge and experience in certain places.”

The biggest change involves finding a successor for Bob Yeager, who is credited with building the Coweta County Court Services Division nearly from the ground up.

When Bob Yeager joined the sheriff’s office in 1985, deputies were pulled from other divisions to assist in the courts. The Court Services Division was created in 1993 with Bob Yeager appointed as director. Yeager continued organizing and expanding the separate division with full-time deputies to handle legal services, court security, prisoner transport and warrants. Now, the division is a major component of the CCSO.

With Bob Yeager’s retirement, the task of filling his shoes was given to Lt. Col. Lenn Wood.

“Bob did a great job,” Mike Yeager said. “Lenn will do the same. He is a great people person, which is necessary for that kind of job.”

Wood began his law enforcement career in the Newnan Police Department. He spent 17 years in Newnan working to become a sergeant in the detective’s office, but decided on the county’s School Resource Unit instead. Wood was hired as an investigator in the county’s Criminal Investigations Division in 1995 and has been with the sheriff’s office since.

In the CCSO, Wood moved his way up the ranks as he worked in numerous divisions. After a couple of years as an investigator, he was able to transfer to the East Coweta School Resource Unit, which consisted of only three people at the time. Wood was placed in charge of the unit as it grew to cover the entire county. Later, he assisted in opening the sheriff’s office Training Unit. Wood was then promoted to major and became the assistant director of the Jail Division under Col. Blake Adcock. When Adcock retired two years ago, Wood became the director of the Jail Division. After working closely with the Court Division, Wood was an obvious choice to become the next director.

“It was something else I wanted to learn,” Wood said. “I love it. It’s something new, and I had an advantage after working close to Col. Yeager, being able to meet and work with all of our judges. It made the transition much easier.”

Moving into Wood’s former position as director of the Jail Division is Lt. Col. Kelvin Thompson. Thompson is the longest serving member of the CCSO, and he is the longest serving Coweta County employee, being here for 36 years.

“He has been here so many years,” Mike Yeager said. “He knows so much and he has the respect of so many people. He has been a part of just about every area of this organization.”

Thompson began his career as a sheriff’s deputy in 1977, under sheriff Aaron Massey and working as a patrol officer for two-and-a-half years. Thompson then moved up to the Criminal Investigations Division, where he remained for 13 years and was eventually promoted to lieutenant, then captain.

When Mike Yeager became sheriff in 1993, he reorganized the CCSO and created a number of new divisions. One of the divisions was the Uniformed Patrol Division, with Thompson as the first commander. After four-and-a-half years, the sheriff’s office created a division to handle the many clerical needs of the CCSO, and Thompson became a major and commander of the Support Services Division.

Thompson worked as head of the Support Services Division for nearly 15 years, handling all the behind-the-scenes maintenance of the CCSO. Thompson maintained the deputies’ vehicles, equipment and clothing, wrote the policies and procedures manual, eventually becoming the liaison for the IT department.

Thompson says that with the maintenance of the jail, its infirmary and the kitchens, he is a bit busier than he is accustomed to, but there are experienced supervisors in the jail who made the transition easier.

“I would consider it a pretty big transition,” Thompson said. “I think it has the most liability in the department. The position holds a lot of responsibility, being in charge of the security of the inmates, which includes the inmates housing and safety.”

Taking over where Thompson left off is Major Tony Grant, the new director of the Professional Standards and Administrative Services Division. The director of professional standards position was newly created in order to handle complaints in and out of the CCSO, and any internal investigations.

“Because we are human beings,” Mike Yeager said, “there are times when we will need to look at ourselves. I know Tony will do a thorough job in internal investigations.”

Internal investigations were previously handled by investigators in the sheriff’s office, but Grant will now be the man in charge of any internal or external complaints, affairs or issues. Grant will also manage all the equipment, vehicles, clothing and technology for employees of the sheriff’s office.

“I love it,” Grant said. “It’s a different angle concerning law enforcement. There is a more financial side to it, and I get to encourage the guys over here.”

Grant began his career in Coweta County in 1983 as a fireman with the county fire department. After two years, he made a lateral shift to the sheriff’s office and became a jailor in the old county jail. After a year and a half, Grant went to mandate school in Clayton County and came back to Coweta to work in the patrol shift as a sheriff’s deputy.

In 1990, Grant was promoted to sergeant, transferring to the CCSO Warrant Division, which handled warrants prior to becoming a part of the Court Division. In 1993, when Mike Yeager became sheriff, Grant transferred to the Criminal Investigations Division where he remained until this year.

“That’s my career in a nutshell,” Grant said, “and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Earlier this year, the sheriff’s office had a number of other changes. In February, Mike Yeager promoted all the division directors — Bob Yeager in the Court Services Division, James Yarbrough in the Criminal Investigations Division, Lenn Wood in the Jail Division, Mike Kinsey in the Patrol Division and Kelvin Thompson in administration — to lieutenant colonels.

Most recently, the CCSO Traffic Unit was combined with part of the Crime Suppression Unit to become the Field Operations Unit. According to Mike Yeager, the unit was built to saturate the hot spots in the county and reduce traffic issues, accidents, thefts and drug crimes. Captain Mark Fenninger was promoted to lead the Field Operations Unit based in the East Precinct on Literary Lane, while Major Tony Brown oversees the Crime Suppression Unit.

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