A statewide effort to improve criminal justice and lower crime now has new local representation, with the recent appointment of Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, or CJCC, by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Freeman was appointed to the CJCC in late June and will begin serving on that council in September. The sheriff’s office stated in a news release that the CJCC was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1981 to build consensus and understanding between the various different criminal justice system components in Georgia.
“They do some of the most important work in criminal justice,” Freeman said. “It’s not just law enforcement, they work with judiciary, they work with grant funding, they make recommendations for changes in the criminal justice system that need to happen ... It’s that true cross section of the criminal justice system.”
On their website, the CJCC states that they are “legislatively charged with 11 areas of criminal justice coordination” in areas including serving as a clearinghouse for criminal justice information and research, developing criminal justice legislation and policy proposals, and advising the governor on the issues affecting the criminal justice system.
“Really in a nut shell it’s how do we make the system work better,” Freeman said. “How do we make Georgia better and how do we make Forsyth County better?”
In addition to examining and advising the state’s executive or legislative branches on criminal justice policy, the CJCC also administers millions in federal and state criminal justice and victim services grants.
Freeman said that in the past the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has worked closely with the CJCC for grants and other things, and he said he already has a good working relationship with many of the council members from his years in law enforcement.
Freeman said that the council is packed with “heavy hitters,” like GBI Director Vernon Keenan, Board of Corrections Chairman John Mayes, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency Director Homer Bryson who “have a deep understanding of the broad spectrum of criminal justice.”
“And that was the idea behind the CJCC,” Freeman said. “Some expertise from all angles ... so it’s not just one perspective or one agency’s view.”
Though he will be with a variety of different people immersed in the field of criminal justice, Freeman will be the sole sheriff on the council, and in addition to representing Forsyth County he said he will represent the work that Georgia sheriff’s do for the council.
“I think it’s important that the sheriffs of Georgia have a say,” Freeman said. “We are the keepers of jails, we are the security of courts, and we serve the civil process … Sheriff’s offer a unique perspective that other law enforcement agencies may not have.”
For what he personally plans on bringing to the council, Freeman said that the work that is being done in Forsyth County in the fields of technology, crime prevention and crime tracking will definitely be in the mix.
“We are uniquely situated in Forsyth County that we are at the forefront in a lot of areas of law enforcement,” Freeman said. “And I hope I can offer some advice on how we can drive towards what we all want to see — less crime.”