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Former Sheriff Bruce Harris dies

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Sheriff Bruce Harris.PNG

 

The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office mourns the loss of retired Sheriff Bruce Harris.  Sheriff Harris passed away surrounded by his family at Kennestone Hospital on Sunday January 12, 2020 at approximately 7:40 PM. 

 

Sheriff Bruce Harris was a native Paulding Countian and loved his home and the people of Paulding County.  He graduated from West Georgia College in 1969 with a degree in Education.  He later returned and earned an add-on degree in Criminal Justice when it became available as a degree program.  After he graduated in 1969, he worked as a teacher in the Paulding County School District.  In 1975 Sheriff Harris realized his true calling and went to work for the Georgia State Patrol.  Sheriff Harris graduated Trooper School in 1976 and eventually came back to work as a Trooper in Paulding County. 

 

Sheriff Harris worked for the Georgia State Patrol for nearly 18 years.  In 1992, Harris ran for Sheriff of Paulding County and was elected by the citizens.  He took over an agency that was in desperate need of professionalism and reform.  Sheriff Harris took office as the Sheriff of Paulding County on January 1, 1993.

Bruce Harris (by fence).jpg

 

Throughout his career, Sheriff Harris helped modernize the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.  One of his first tasks was to create a standard operating procedure when there was not one before.  He went on to overcome many obstacles in his career which helped shape the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office into one of the largest and most professional Sheriff’s Offices in the State of Georgia.  Sheriff Harris is directly responsible for the creation of the following units/programs/events during his tenure as Sheriff:

 

 

-S.W.A.T. Team

-Crisis Negotiation Team

-Honor Guard

-K-9 Unit

-Youth Services Unit

-D.A.R.E. Unit

-School Resource Officers

-Crimes Against Children Unit

-Technical Services Unit (Crime Scene Investigators)

               -Polygraph Unit

-Silver Comet Trail Patrol

-Haralson-Paulding Drug Task Force (HPDTF)

-Training Division

-Field Training Officer (FTO) Program

-Office of Professional Standards

-Public Information Officer

-Sheriff’s Office Social Media Pages

-DUI Task Force

-H.E.A.T. Unit

-Crime Suppression Unit (CSU)

-Inmate Workforce Unit

-Cops for Kids Christmas Shopping Program

-Cops for Kids Golf Tournament

-Lamar Hunton Memorial Motorcycle Ride for Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes

 

Sheriff Harris served in many different capacities on boards and organizations during his career.  He served on several boards within the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association and numerous others both locally and statewide.  At the direction of then Speaker of the House Tom Murphy, Sheriff Harris served on the Georgia Board of Public Safety for many years.

 

Sheriff Bruce Harris served as the Sheriff of Paulding County from January 1, 1993 until he retired on December 31, 2008.  Harris served four terms (16 years) and is recognized as the longest serving Sheriff in Paulding County history.  He was the 47th Sheriff in the county’s 188 year history.

 

Bruce, as he was called by many, was beloved by so many people in Paulding County.  He was always available and seemed to listen to his law enforcement radio both day and night.  He would show up on a scene regardless of whether it was on a holiday or even in the middle of the night.  He was a Sheriff for the people and was an excellent leader.

 

Sheriff Harris’ funeral arrangements are being handled by Clark’s Funeral Home in Hiram, Georgia.  He will be laid to rest in the Dallas Memory Gardens Cemetery near his home in downtown Dallas, Georgia.

 

We will never forget the path he paved for those of us at the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office.  He made Paulding County a better place because he was the Sheriff.  Sheriff Bruce Harris “01”, will forever be 10-7….10-42.

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Bruce was a wonderful man, he turned paulding around in a good way when he became sheriff. he also trained one the best sheriff's we have ever had. 

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3 hours ago, Lady Raider said:

Bruce was a wonderful man, he turned paulding around in a good way when he became sheriff. he also trained one the best sheriff's we have ever had. 

 

Prayers for His Family, He will be missed! :wub:

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He was my teacher when Dallas, Hiram, and Matthew Schools became Paulding High School. When I past Kroger's in Dallas I think of Old Harris Place. RIP Bruce.

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I first met Bruce when he was a state trooper covering Paulding and I was doing the police beat at the MDJ and later general reporting in Paulding.

What Bruce brought to the SO was professionalism.  As a former teacher it is a given he was a college graduate and in Paulding of 1987, when the population was closer to 35000 people than today's 160,000 +, the old, old regime was in place and that included a sheriff who had to allegedly cut a few corners because the county wasn't funding a retirement in those days.  Yep, this was the time of the county with its sole stoplight and the Walmart is where the Publix and Big Lots is in Dallas. 

Bruce was elected in 1992 after four rather odd years in which the 'first Republican Sheriff" in Paulding in something like 130 years was ending his first term.  That sheriff was playing the Republican game with Newt, who was our congressman at that time, getting him publicized on programs like the "700 Club" etc.

I'd come out in early 1989 just after Perry Grogan had become that first Republican Sheriff and was doing some rather strange things that me being a reporter with some cop beat experience, felt was problematic.  I mean I didn't want to blow his 'dope' cases so I didn't print that I was left in the meeting room converted to a property room with the evidence in a couple of marijuana cases.  I was very uncomfortable being left alone in the room.

That didn't end Sheriff Grogan's problems with 'evidence' ... especially after his bail bondsman was caught on tape making a deal for a $5000 payment to secure the release of a person charged with dealing cocaine and later the 'case' against that person was dismissed when the paper bag with the cocaine went missing during the move from the old Jail (Where Helping Hands is now) and the soon to be 'old' jail out off North Industrial.

Anyway, Perry did have some accomplishments and was pretty popular amongst the old Paulding Republican Party who had gotten him elected.  Most of the county offices were held by Democrats at that time and a good part of the community was still aligned with the Dems ... even Bill Carruth was running for Post commissioner as a Democrat. 

The local GOP leadership changed dramatically after Bruce won re-election in 1996, beating Perry Grogan in a rematch - although the race was not nearly as close.  Seems that Perry was also facing charges of child molestation for some acts he did when sheriff the first time ... but didn't come out. 

Bruce switched to the GOP after Tom Murphy was defeated in the 2002 election. He was also a big backer of Bill Carruth's run for State Senate when he challenged Bill Heath. That was the last time I saw Bruce.

There was one instance, when I think I helped Bruce a lot. I think it was when he was being criticized for mowing his lawn by the Atlanta media (TV) but it may have been after the Silver Comet murder or some other big case.  Anyone could tell that Bruce never fancied himself a super-confident public speaker and always seemed just a bit uncomfortable in front of a crowd. 

Anyway, he had called a press conference where all these folks press, Marietta and Atlanta papers and me up there for Paulding.com ...So, Bruce exits the building and doesn't stop behind the microphones, but sees me in stead and comes over and gives me a hug.  I was surprised but proud that I apparently gave him a boost of confidence.

 

 

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