Deal announces law enforcement task force

October 25, 2016

Gov. Nathan Deal today announced the members of the law enforcement task force, who will examine the Basic Law Enforcement Officer Training Course and establish competency-based standards for any course revisions deemed appropriate. The task force is comprised of law enforcement officials, judges, legislators and community leaders throughout the state and will equip officers with the critical thinking and tactical skills needed to face the challenges of policing in a modern society. Deal announced his intention to create the task force in September as phase three of his law enforcement reform package.

“Every day, law enforcement personnel of all levels and ranks are asked to do a very difficult job, one that requires significant skill and a strong dedication of purpose,” said Deal. “Protecting our citizens is one of the fundamental roles of government and we must continue to strengthen the ties of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“To that end, I have charged the task force with reviewing the Basic Law Enforcement Training Course and providing any necessary recommendations. The unique experiences and diverse perspectives of the task force members will help guide our efforts as we seek to improve public safety for all citizens. I look forward to meeting with them to discuss how we can continue to improve outcomes for Georgia.”

The law enforcement task force members include:

Verda Colvin, Law Enforcement Task Force
Colvin is a Superior Court judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit. She previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Georgia and as an assistant district attorney in Clayton County. Colvin is a member of the Macon Bar Association, the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, the Gate City Bar Association executive board and the William A. Bootle American Inn of Court. She is a graduate of Leadership Macon and received the Robert F. Hatcher Distinguished Alumni Award as a community leader. Colvin earned a bachelor’s degree from Sweet Briar College and a law degree from the University of Georgia. She has two children and resides in Macon.

Gerald Couch, Law Enforcement Task Force
Couch is the sheriff of Hall County and has more than 34 years of law enforcement experience. Before becoming sheriff, he was a major with the Gainesville Police Department. Couch has held many roles in law enforcement including patrol deputy, field training officer, investigator, sergeant and lieutenant. He has worked in nearly every area of law enforcement, including detention, uniform patrol, narcotics, internal affairs, crime prevention and criminal investigations. He resides in Gainesville.

Eddie DeLoach, Law Enforcement Task Force
DeLoach is the mayor of Savannah and was previously a Chatham County commissioner. He is owner and president of Tidewater Landscape Management and a member of the Rotary Club. DeLoach earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from Berry College. He and his wife, Cynthia, have two children and four grandchildren. They reside in Savannah.

Sonja Fillingame, Law Enforcement Task Force
Fillingame is the city manager for Union City. She previously worked as the grants administrator for the City of Sandy Springs, program director for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and as a compliance manager for Gov. Zell Miller. Fillingame also helped establish Georgia’s first Victim Assistance Academy. She earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. Fillingame and her husband, Edward, have two children and reside in Dallas.

Bert Flewellen, Law Enforcement Task Force
Flewellen is a senior policy advisor with the Department of Community Supervision. He previously worked for the Department of Corrections and the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. Flewellen sits on the Governor’s Public Safety Awards committee and the Georgia Public Safety Memorial committee. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Corrections Leadership Institute and the FBI’s Law Enforcement Executive Development Program. Flewellen earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children and reside in Griffin.

Tyler Harper, Law Enforcement Task Force
Harper represents the 7th District of the Georgia Senate. He is the chairman of the Public Safety committee and is a member of the Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Natural Resources and Environment and Retirement committees. Harper is a graduate of the 2013 Leadership Georgia class and the Georgia Legislative Leadership Institute. He earned an associate degree from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Georgia. Harper resides in Ocilla.

George Hartwig, Law Enforcement Task Force
Hartwig is the district attorney for the Houston County Judicial Circuit and has seven years of previous experience in law enforcement in Broward County, Florida. He is a member of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council and the District Attorneys’ Association of Georgia. Hartwig earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Florida and a law degree from Mercer University. He and his wife, Margaret, have two children and reside in Centerville.

Vivadon Horton, Law Enforcement Task Force
Horton is a citizen liaison for the Georgia Public Safety Training Center Forsyth Regional Police Academy. In this role, she provides input to help improve and build stronger relationships between law enforcement and the local community. She was previously treasurer for the Lamar County chapter of the NAACP. Horton is a member of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. She and her husband, Bennie, have two children and five grandchildren. They reside in Barnesville.

Dan Kirk, Law Enforcement Task Force                
Kirk is the assistant director at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). He was previously a forensic toxicologist, a regional lab manager, the deputy chief of facilities and support operations and crime lab director at GBI. Kirk is a member of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, the Peace Officers Association of Georgia, Atlanta Metropol, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Augusta State University, a master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry from Georgia Tech and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University. Kirk and his wife, Lee, have five children and reside in McDonough.

Michael Persley, Law Enforcement Task Force
Persley is the chief of police in Albany and has more than 22 years of experience with the Albany Police Department. He previously served as the assistant commander of the Albany-Dougherty Metro SWAT Team and is a veteran of the Georgia Army National Guard. Persley is a member of the Georgia Tactical Officer’s Association, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Tactical Officer’s Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice from Darton College, a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Troy State University and a master’s degree in Administration of Justice and Security from the University of Phoenix. Persley and his wife, Kimberly, reside in Albany.

Alan Powell, Law Enforcement Task Force
Powell represents the 32nd District of the Georgia House of Representatives. He is the chairman of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and is a member of the Appropriations, Governmental Affairs, Motor Vehicles, Regulated Industries and Rules and Small Business Development committees. Powell was previously the chairman of the Hart County Board of Commissioners. He resides in Hartwell.

Mitch Ralston, Law Enforcement Task Force
Ralston is the sheriff of Gordon County and has more than 27 years of law enforcement experience. He previously worked with the Calhoun Fire Department and Georgia State Patrol (GSP). Ralston was also a member of the Nighthawk Unit and the SWAT Team at GSP. He and his wife, Nikki, have three children and reside in Calhoun.

Pat Strode, Law Enforcement Task Force
Strode is the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program administrator for the Georgia Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She works in collaboration with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities to train law enforcement officers through the Georgia CIT program. Strode sits on the CIT International board of directors and is the recipient of the 2013 CIT International Coordinator of the Year Award. She has two children, two grandchildren and resides in Atlanta.

Ken Vance, Law Enforcement Task Force
Vance is the executive director of the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council and has more than 38 years of experience in law enforcement. He is also an adjunct professor in the Command College at Columbus State University. Vance was previously a councilman for the City of Milledgeville. He earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University. Vance and his wife, Carol, have two children.

Chris Wigginton, Law Enforcement Task Force
Wigginton is the director of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center and has more than 20 years of law enforcement and security operations experience. He is a Peace Officers Standards and Training certified instructor and a former instructor at the Moorefield Training Center. Wigginton previously served on the executive protection detail for Governor and First Lady Deal and was a member of the 24th Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange to Israel. He earned an associate degree from Southern Union State Community College. Wigginton and his wife, Brandi, have three children and reside in Carrollton.

Scott Woodell, Law Enforcement Task Force
Woodell is the director of training for the Department of Public Safety and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He is an adjunct professor in the Command College at Columbus State University. Woodell is a member of the American Legion, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the American Association of State Troopers and the State and Provincial Police Academy Directors. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Thomas University, a master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. Woodell and his wife, Amanda, have four children and reside in Forsyth.